Retired officer still 'dares' students
Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA) - September 8, 2003
In the next 10 weeks, Richard Cruse will get to know the sixth-graders at Seton Catholic School in Farley, Iowa. He likely will play kickball and eat lunch with the students, but most importantly he will teach them to make positive choices.
Today Cruse begins his 14th year as Dubuque County's D.A.R.E. officer. Throughout the school year, he will visit 12 county schools, teaching sixth- and eight-grade classes the national Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which focuses on decision making and the negative impact of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.
Although Cruse, 61, retired from the Dubuque County Sheriff's Department in June 2002, he said he doesn't plan to stop teaching D.A.R.E. anytime soon.
When he is not instructing students, Cruse continues to wear his uniform several days per week while working at the courthouse. He enjoys golfing, playing guitar, singing and learning to play the bagpipes.
Through their involvement at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Cruse and his wife, Sharon, act as hosts for international students at Wartburg College.
In his law enforcement career, Cruse said he spent most of his time "cleaning up messes" from accidents and crimes.
"D.A.R.E. allows me the opportunity to deal with people in a positive way," Cruse said. "I get to smile while I work."
Cruse, who grew up near La Porte City, Iowa, began working in law enforcement in 1968, when he became an Iowa State Trooper and was assigned to Dubuque County. Three years later, Cruse transferred to the sheriff's department where he worked as a patrol deputy and shift commander before becoming the D.A.R.E. officer in 1989.
Chief Deputy Ken Runde considers Cruse's involvement in D.A.R.E. as his most important contribution to the sheriff's department.
"He has had a great influence on the young people of Dubuque County," Runde said.
Cruse has written songs, spoken at national conferences and been a mentor for D.A.R.E., Runde said.
Incoming sixth-graders at St. Francis Xavier School in Dyersville, Iowa, look forward to the program, said sixth-grade teacher Amy Kluesner.
"They absolutely love (Cruse)," she said. "He has a wonderful rapport with them."
"A number of young people have told me at a later time how positive D.A.R.E. was and that is how I measure effectiveness," Cruse said.
Kluesner believes it works for her students.
"The kids enjoy it so much because of (Cruse), so I think he makes it successful," she said.
This year Cruse will incorporate a new curriculum that focuses on decision making and the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.
He hopes students learn that they have a right to say no and be respected. Through his interaction in the classroom, the lunch room or on the playground, Cruse wants to show kids that they are cared about.
"I do consider it a privilege to touch young lives," he said.