Police D.A.R.E to Bring Back Drug Program
The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department brought back the county’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program.
The D.A.R.E board was shut down eight years ago, but was brought back Feb. 6. The program has since been added to the Nodaway County school curriculum. The program is headed by Sgt. Rich Smail, who retired from the Maryville Public Safety Department in 2016.
As of 2009, the D.A.R.E program has trained over 50,000 police officers to teach its program every year to 36 million K-12 students worldwide, according to the D.A.R.E website.
The D.A.R.E program aims to help students have more positive attitudes toward law enforcement, especially after graduation. This was Smail’s main motivation for starting the program again.
“We break down barriers of school, police and parents working together to help get the kids the knowledge they need to succeed in life,” Smail said.
Nodaway County Sheriff Randy Strong said he was excited about getting the program back in schools because he felt it offered vital lessons for the children.
“We felt it was important to schools, for one, that they get it, and we felt it was important to assist the families in this county and bring information to their children,” Strong said. “We wanted to bring them the information about how to resist and how to fight the temptation due to drugs and violence.”
Students who previously participated in the D.A.R.E. program reported lower alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use than students who did not participate in the program. It was reported that 40 percent of students who used alcohol at the beginning of the program reported reductions in alcohol use after receiving the curriculum. Also, it was reported that 32 percent of students exposed to the D.A.R.E Program discontinued alcohol use altogether, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Strong said he is optimistic that the D.A.R.E program will show children how dangerous the use of drugs and violence is.
“I hope through our education, children will learn that it is a downward spiral if they get involved with drugs and violence,” Strong said. “This program will hopefully give them coping skills that can help them avoid peer pressure as they grow older.”
In the end, for Strong, Smail and all those helping to run the D.A.R.E program, their mission always came back to helping the community.
Strong said he believed Smail embodied the idea of community, and though he was retired, he decided to help run the program. His dedication meant a lot to Strong and the sheriff’s department.
“Deputy Smail had been with public safety for a number of years and he is well respected in the community,” Strong said. “He teaches from the heart and really loves what he is doing. Though he is in retirement and could walk away, he choose to stand with our children and this community and hopefully teach them a valuable lesson. We are really pleased that he decided to come on board with us.”