DARE a Casualty of War

DARE a Casualty of War
Posted by FoM on February 07, 2002 at 07:54:41 PT
By Dana Treen, Times-Union Staff Writer 
Source: Florida Times-Union 
America's war on terrorism is impacting a front in the war on drugs in Jacksonville, where a dozen years of a police-taught anti-drug program was recently scrapped from schools to put officers on the streets.A police staffing shortage caused in part because National Guard and military reservists in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have been called to service scrubbed the national Drug Abuse Resistance Education program -- known as DARE to the thousands of fifth-graders who take it annually -- so the officers can bolster road patrol units. 
While DARE is the only program directly affected so far, the situation may be a window to future staffing issues as experienced officers retire and the department searches for ways to attract new recruits.The move to drop DARE freed 13 officers for patrol duties but ended the weekly program in the classrooms.In the 2000-01 school year, 12,182 elementary students took the 17-week course that teaches about peer pressure and ways to avoid drug use. A part of school curriculums since 1989 in public and private schools that wished to participate, DARE's last day in Duval County was Oct. 31.DARE Funding In Jacksonville, DARE is funded primarily by the sheriff's budget, though business fund-raisers and other contributions pay for some workbooks and other teaching materials."If executed well it makes a ... powerful program for the kids," said Paula Renfro, principal of J. Allen Axson Elementary in Springfield. "I understand why it is gone. I just look forward to it coming back."Police officials said they will evaluate whether to reinstate the program before classes begin in the fall, but DARE was dropped because of immediate issues after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the call-up of National Guard and military reservists. Community Affairs Chief Gordon Bass said that while difficult, a decision to pull the DARE officers was made because they could immediately fill patrol vacancies."It was a resource we were able to [use to] put a number of officers back on the street in a relatively quick amount of time," he said.The department has 82 military reservists and National Guard members, including 41 in the patrol ranks, who can be called for duty at different times.In addition to those vacancies after Sept. 11, the department was experiencing surges in calls to investigate bomb and anthrax scares. Assistant Chief Michael Rutledge in the department's community affairs division said the number of dispatch calls were at an all-time high and response times were creeping above the preferred range of seven to eight minutes. "We had to make a decision about calls for service," he said. "When we saw that start to creep up, we had to look at that." This week there were 19 sworn officers called for military duty, said Human Resources Division Chief Jim Ley.Ley said the number fluctuates almost daily and is less predictable than it has been in past conflicts, such as Desert Storm. Instead of anticipating reservists will be sent to a foreign country for an extended stay, Ley said they may be gone only a short time."They may be gone a year, they may be gone a couple of weeks," he said. "Some of the National Guard people are being called up and are guarding the airport."With the 13 DARE officers returned to patrol duties, schools like Axson Elementary will have to adjust, Renfro said.She said the school's DARE officer, Grover Highsmith, volunteered his time for after-school functions and helped with things such as traffic control. He knew parents and was visible to the students."He was an integral component to character-building and self-awareness," she said. "They had a community role model."Renfro said the school will not be able to teach the anti-drug message with the same intensity, though character issues will be addressed."We just weave those strands into our regular work plan," she said.Nationally, DARE has stirred debate in recent years as studies contend that the program is not particularly effective in steering students from drugs. Budget issues also have played a role in dozens of other cities cutting the program. Note: City drops program to put cops on street. Source: Florida Times-Union (FL)Author: Dana Treen, Times-Union Staff Writer Published: Thursday, February 7, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Florida Times-UnionContact: jaxstaff jacksonville.comWebsite: DARE Archives
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Comment #3 posted by Dark Star on February 07, 2002 at 11:15:43 PT
DARE to Die
Much as any idea hatched by Darryl Gates, DARE should RIP (that's Remain In Purgatory), with a stake driven through its heart.
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Comment #2 posted by goneposthole on February 07, 2002 at 10:07:27 PT
Must adhere to the party line.Boy, oh, boy am I glad I attended grade school in the fifties. We were free of such imposing BS.Freedom is 'dope'. The word 'dope' is now the word used for the word 'cool' or 'righteous'.
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Comment #1 posted by TroutMask on February 07, 2002 at 08:35:11 PT
Don't Worry
Don't worry! President Busch says we're going to increase all kinds of spending for all kinds of things while simultaneously cutting taxes. So I'm sure we'll find a way that we can continue to use DARE to increase drug use by kids. Several studies have shown that DARE kids use illegal drugs more often than non-DARE kids and that is obviously the intent as we wouldn't want our little War on Some Drugs to end, now would we?-TM
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