County DARE program canceled for this year

Sheriff plans return of drug awareness classes in 2009

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

August 22, 2008 - The drug awareness program for county schools sponsored by the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office is being canceled for this year but should return in the future.

For close to a dozen years, every Hopkins County school district has had a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for students. This coming school year, however, there will be no DARE programs at any school.

The decision, attributed to a number of factors, was not one Sheriff Butch Adams wanted to make, but circumstances forced his hand.

"We're taking the year off," Adams said today, obviously unhappy about the matter. "I've sent letters to all the school districts, and I've gotten four back from superintendents saying they wanted it to continue."

DARE programs for county schools was one of the election promises Adams had made when he was voted in as sheriff in 1996, and he held true to the campaign pledge.

DARE instructors target pre-teens in their classes, teaching them about the effects of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in a frank and honest manner. Students also learned other useful tidbits, such as what to do in an emergency and what to expect if they ever have to call 911.

But a series of events that began in January led to the current situation.

On Jan. 17, the DARE progam that had been co-sponsored by Sulphur Springs Police Department and Sulphur Springs Independent School District for approximately 15 years, came to an end. Both police and school officials indicated the decision was mutual, and school officials said at the time they would explore other options for drug education.

In June, SSISD hired a security officer for Douglas Intermediate School who would also be the district's new drug education program teacher.

Glynda Chester, who was at the time the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, was offered the position to teach the new Drug, Alcohol and Violence Education -- or DAVE -- program to fifth-graders.

That left the sheriff's office without a DARE officer, but Adams said they intended to find and train a new officer in time for the 2008-2009 school year.

In the meantime, Adams said, the school that the county used for training its DARE officers shut down. That meant the nearest place to send an officer for training was Alabama, Adams said, and for several reasons, that was not an option.

But now the county will have plenty of time to get set up for a new round of DARE classes starting in 2009.

"We'll just start getting ready for next year," Adams said.

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