CLEARFIELD – News stories show that crime is everywhere; on the streets, on the internet, and in schools.
One local organization works to help elementary students learn how to make good decisions and show them possibilities in law enforcement careers.
The Legal Eagles began in 2001, according to Mark Falvo, coordinator. The program came from ideas Falvo gleaned from other programs, and was developed by the Young Lawyers Association of the Clearfield Bar Association. Falvo cited a number of people as driving forces behind the program, including Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Nevling, Bruce Morris of the Pennsylvania State Police, and his parents.
Falvo said his parents were also big influences behind the program, and added that they taught him to give back to the community.
“They were a big force behind it,” said Falvo.
Falvo said the program started at Clearfield High School and Curwensville Elementary School. He said the program really took off at the elementary level.
“We almost made it like a club,” said Falvo of the program.
Since then, the program has grown, and now works with Curwensville Elementary, West Branch Elementary, and St. Francis Schools.
“All the teachers have been great,” said Falvo. “I’ve really enjoyed working with them.”
Falvo said that Legal Eagles gives children the chance to meet people in law professions they would not normally get to meet, such as agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Secret Service, the Quehanna Boot Camp and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to name a few.
On the local level, students get the chance to speak with police officers, state troopers, judges, and prosecutors.
According to Falvo, America’s Most Wanted has even provided instructional aids to help the children.
Falvo said that topics of discussion with the children include internet safety, peer pressure, and bullying. The sessions not only involve lectures, but also give the children chances to ask questions of the featured speaker.
“Some of the questions are mind boggling,” said Falvo.
The program also has one obvious advantage to schools that opt into it: it’s free of charge. Falvo said that sponsors help to defray costs of the program, and he also helps to fund the program as well.
The program has even caught the attention of those outside the area. Falvo said that attorney David Trevaskis of Law Education and Peace for Kids inquired about the program. Falvo said that Trevaskis wants to implement the program in city schools.
Falvo isn’t content to rest on his laurels, either. While the program currently operates within three school districts, Falvo said that he has pitched the program to two more school districts.
To learn more about the Legal Eagles program, visit their Web site at www.teamlegaleagles.com.