DARE Officer teaches drug awareness in Herlong
Based out of the Sierra Army Depot, Brent is one of two officers who teach the DARE program for the Fort Sage Unified School District in Herlong. He has worked as a DARE Officer for more than 11 years, and has been certified to teach kids ranging from kindergarten to high school seniors.
“I’ll go into the kindergarten class and we’ll talk about basic safety,” Brent said. “Stop signs are red, medicine should be stored in a medicine cabinet, and so forth. It picks up as you get up in the grade levels. When you’re talking to the fourth graders, you’re talking more about alcohol, tobacco and marijuana than you would be when you’re talking to the first graders.”
The DARE program for the school district is essentially a 10-week program in the fall, which has Brent visiting Sierra Primary, Long Valley Charter and Herlong High School once a week.
Brent said the curriculum for the program gets progressively more involved, with more hands-on activities, workbooks and information being made available as the kids are able to learn more.
Brent said he couldn’t come up with the material off the top of his head, however. His training at the DARE headquarters at the Los Angeles Police Department has kept his curriculum very specific.
While he teaches he each grade level differently from the next, what he teaches follows set guidelines from the DARE program.
Occasionally, students will want to talk to Brent outside of the class, asking him specific questions or disclosing personal information. Brent said he does make the distinction however about separating the duties of being a police officer and a DARE officer.
“When you go into the classroom, you’re a police officer second and a DARE officer first,” Brent said. “You’re there to teach the program, and you make that clear. You still have all the responsibility of being a police officer though.”
Brent said that those responsibilities periodically overlap. In situations where students might disclose information about sexual abuse or drug abuse, He said he still has to take the appropriate actions, either through the school or through the police department. If one of the students is in danger or if they don’t know where else to turn, then Brent will have to respond.
The DARE program originated in Los Angeles in 1983. It started with 10 LAPD officers, and has grown into a program that educates more than 36 million children around the world, with 26 million students involved in the U.S. alone, according to Brent and DARE’s Website.
“The program is implemented in 80 percent of the nation’s schools, and its in 54 countries around the world,” Brent said.
When it comes to the success of the program out at Herlong, Brent said that’s a subject he gets asked about all the time. The feedback that he’s received makes him feel that he’s gotten through to many of the students he’s talked to.
“I know it impacts the students,” Brent said. “I’ve had students who are now married with children coming back to me saying that I made a difference. Is it going to stop every kid from using drugs? No. But I believe it makes a difference on a large percentage of them.”
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