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Collier Corporal Honored as Nation’s Top D.A.R.E. Officer

Posted on August 3, 2015 by in Florida, Hometown, News

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and Corporal Ken Vila

From Naples Florida Weekly.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, left, presented Cpl. Ken Vila with the 2015 Florida D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year award earlier this month in Orlando. In August, Cpl. Vila will travel to New Orleans to receive D.A.R.E. America’s 2015 National D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year award. COURTESY PHOTO.

Cpl. Ken Vila of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office has been named 2015 D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year by D.A.R.E. America. The national award is in recognition of Cpl. Vila’s dedication to drug-abuse prevention among youth in the community.

D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Cpl. Vila was named the nation’s top D.A.R.E. officer from among dozens of candidates from around the country, including three from Florida. He is also the 2015 Florida D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk presented the award to Cpl. Vila during the Florida Association of School Resource Officers conference in Orlando. Also at the conference, the CCSO Youth Relations Bureau was honored as Agency of the Year for its contributions to the school resource officer profession.

As part of the fifth-grade curriculum, the D.A.R.E. program gives students the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, alcohol, tobacco use, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, bullying, gangs, cyber-bullying, violence and other negative activities.

Cpl. Vila began his law enforcement career with CCSO in 1989 and has spent his entire career as a youth relations deputy, including 22 years as a D.A.R.E. instructor.

He is currently one of 47 D.A.R.E. officers in a cadre of 56 CCSO youth relations deputies. He is the most experienced and most versed in the D.A.R.E. curriculum.

“No question, Cpl. Vila is certainly the go-to guy when it comes to D.A.R.E.,” says Sheriff Rambosk, who is a member of the D.A.R.E. America International Law Enforcement Advisory Board.

Cpl. Vila became a certified D.A.R.E. instructor in 1994. He took his training and experience to the next level in 2012 when he became a D.A.R.E. mentor.

“Without exception, Cpl. Vila has molded and influenced at least two generations of Collier County citizens,” Sheriff Rambosk says.

In the early morning of April 29, 2012, Cpl. Vila was confronted with a decision that all law enforcement officers realize they may face. While home alone he was awakened by the sound of breaking glass. At that moment, he knew his life and home were threatened. The intruder failed to heed Cpl. Vila’s warnings and orders and continued to pursue him while yielding a weapon. Cpl. Vila was left with no option but to shoot the intruder.

In the aftermath, he says, he found comfort in words posted online by a former D.A.R.E. student under a newspaper story about the shooting: “Cpl. Vila was my D.A.R.E. officer. He is not only a good deputy, but is a good, moral man who cares about people.”