CHOICES FOR SUCCESS – by: Chief Michael T. Force, Lake Saint Louis Police Department

 

The choices we make today form the foundation for success or failure in our future.   Young people today find it increasingly difficult to understand that the bad choices they make today may have dramatic ramifications in the life and opportunities they will find as they move from youth to adulthood.  Peer pressure, the availability of drugs and alcohol, and a general sense of non-accountability for their actions form the perfect foundation for choices that may affect them for the rest of their lives.  Parents are often frustrated and lost when it comes to finding resources that are effective in helping them guide their children through the difficult times of maturation.

All too often, I find myself as a Police Officer working with young men and women who have started down a dangerous path through the choices they make, their behavior and the impact it has on their future.    Counseling and referral of both parents and young adults have been a central part of my work with youth over the past twenty-five years as a Police Chief, and I have always beenon the lookout for programs that have a positive impact on behavior.  Five years ago, I became aware of a program specifically designed to give young people a unique look into the future of someone who has made bad choices in his life, Mr. Lawrence Lawton and his Reality Check Program. 

As a result of the bad choices he made in his life, Mr. Lawton spent eleven years in some of the toughest prisons in our nation.  His video card program seemed an interesting addition to the examples that I used as a law enforcement professional to help young adults understand how important it is to make the right choices in our lives and just how serious making bad ones can be.

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Interested in the program, I flew to Florida to attend one of his live presentations.  The attendees were court ordered to attend the course as part of their probation or court ordered diversion programs.  I was astounded by the impact of the program.  I observed first-hand the changes in attitude and behavior of both young and older people ordered into his program by Florida Courts.  A nationally recognized program endorsed by the Department of Justice and boasting a ninety percent success rate in keeping young people from being rearrested, I quickly recognized The Reality Check Program as a program that I would bring to Lake Saint Louis.  The Reality Check Video Card Program was a way to do just that.  A one hour internet-based video with an introduction by the Chief of Police became a tool that my Police Department would use to help parents in their struggle to ensure a better future for their children.  I asked Mr. Lawton to come to Lake Saint Louis to train my officers in the use of the program and to make the video cards, personalized for our department, available for distribution to our citizens. 

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The program is so successful that it has been implemented as part of probation and diversion programs by the courts, as a resource for in-school suspension programs, private and group programs for organizations and families, parenting programs, prison consulting and a host of other venues.

This is a great tool for parents seeking to help their children recognize the dangers of bad peer associations and the bad choices that often follow these associations.  Designed for at-risk youth, I think the Reality Check Program a viable tool for anyone wishing to help young people understand the importance of making the right choice before or after they begin to move down the wrong path through poor decision making.  You can learn more about Mr. Lawton and the Reality Check Program by visiting his website at www.realitycheckprogram.com.

The video cards are available through Lake Saint Louis Police Officers or by contacting the Police Department at (636) 625-8018.  They are free to the public and represent a significant partnership with our community and an investment in the future of our youth. 

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About the Author: 

Michael T. Force, Chief of Police for the City of Lake Saint Louis