Drugs and violence prevention group comes to Vermont


MANCHESTER — A group focused on preventing drug use and violence is bringing its show on the road.

"We have a great product everyone's jumping onboard with," said Nick DeMauro, executive director and CEO of Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD). "We have a new initiative that's popular and we're moving it across the country."

The non-profit organization has reached out to the Vermont Agency of Education and a meeting with local police chiefs is coming up in the next couple weeks.

Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark said the group met with the Vermont Sheriffs Association in Middlebury less than a month ago.

"Part of it is working with the schools and local communities, finding viable ways to address drugs and gang issues," he said. "They made a quick presentation to us."

The curricula in previous programming is "just not meeting the needs," Clark said, pointing out that LEAD's intention is to create a partnership between law enforcement, schools and other community agencies. Specific issues within each state will be honed in on.

Clark was not sure how the material would be disbursed.

"We didn't discuss how we were going to approach it as an organization," he said.

Efforts are underway to raise money so the group's services can come at little to no cost. Events have been planned to help with that.

"We're developing seed money to offer material free of charge to any law enforcement agencies that want it," DeMauro said. "Based on the profitability of these fundraising events, we'll be able to offer these services as cheap as possible, hopefully free."

LEAD is hosting the Southern Vermont Rockin' Concert Series this summer at the Northshire Civic Center at Riley Rink at Hunter Park in Manchester Center.

Tusk, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac, is set to perform there on June 11. Eaglemania will play — you guessed it, Eagles tunes — on July 9. Southside Johnny & the Ashbury Jukes are scheduled for July 23. Coming August 6 are Not Fade Away, a tribute to Buddy Holly, and The B Street Band, dubbed "the original" Bruce Springsteen tribute band. And The Marshall Tucker Band will finish out the series on Aug. 19.

The concerts will be held rain or shine. Doors open at 5 p.m. Headliners are set to take the stage at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at leadrugs.org and include free parking.

LEAD is also putting together the Green Mountain Fair from July 28 to 31 at Door Farm on Route 30 in Manchester. The event will benefit both LEAD and the Manchester Special Olympics.

LEAD began two years ago in New Jersey. Now, the group has selected other places to bring its program to over the next four months. There's a state down South, one in the Midwest, and then New Hampshire and Vermont in the Northeast, DeMauro said, and Massachusetts has also shown interest.

"We feel we have the number one k-12 curriculum for drug and violence prevention. With this heroin problem, we feel we're the perfect organization to come in and help with the epidemic," said DeMauro, referring to Vermont's well-known struggle with the drug. "We're the largest proven-effective law enforcement drug prevention program in the state of New Jersey. We're excited about making a difference. It's not just in the classrooms. It's on the streets. We feel it has to be a comprehensive effort for it to be effective."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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