HOWELL – An Officer from the Howell Township Police Department was recently honored with the National L.E.A.D. Instructor of the Year Award.
L.E.A.D. is a nonprofit supported by dedicated police officers who are committed to protecting the youth and communities from the proliferation of drugs, drug related crimes, peer to peer/cyber bullying and violence. The organization holds a conference every year to discuss topics such as the opioid epidemic, police and community relations, mental health and more.
From June 27 through 30, the annual L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) conference was held in Atlantic City. This year, Howell Police School Resource Officer Jayme Higgins was awarded with the recognition of being the Instructor of the Year.
Higgins has been with the Howell Police Department for 17 years and is a certified L.E.A.D. instructor for the Howell K-8 Public School District. During the last school year, he advised 565 fifth grade students throughout the district with the L.E.A.D.’s “Too Good for Drugs” program.
Although the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close for in-person teaching, the L.E.A.D. program was still present for students. Thanks to Higgins, along with SRO Maureen McBride, Sergeant Paul Mazzeo, and school S.A.C. Jeanna Ribon, they created a recorded version of the program so that students can watch the lessons virtually. Because of their efforts, the children were able to complete the program and receive important information about the dangers of drug use.
Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick stated how Higgins was the lead on this project and designed fun ways to keep student’s attention, like using emojis and voice recordings in the program.
“He designed the layout for each lesson which became more creative as he moved forward with the project. He spent countless hours piecing together the recordings and the layouts for each lesson,” Kudrick said in a statement. “I commend SRO Higgins for his dedication to his role as one of our outstanding officers. He understood the vital importance of providing this lesson while children were remote learning. He adapted and improvised. He is truly committed to the children. This is another example of our overall commitment to this community. I’m proud of this well-deserved recognition.”