DARE gone, but police presence remains in schools
Although the DARE program will not be offered this year in the Grandview Heights City School District, the Grandview Division of Police will have a presence in the schools this year.
In fact, the goal is for a greater number of students to interact with officers, Police Chief David Wood said.
"DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Program) is a program for fifth-graders, but we've talked with the school district about having a presence in all of the schools this year," Wood said.
DARE is not being offered this year, in part because staffing issues have left no one available who has undergone the training to conduct the program, he said.
The program may return next year, Wood said.
For this year, officer Scott Hiles and Sgt. Leslie Jackson will serve as liaisons to the school district, he said.
The plan is for Hiles to regularly spend time in each school, at times leading educational programs but mostly just being there to interact with students, Wood said.
"We want students to feel comfortable in coming to a police officer any time they need us," he said.
"The first time you come in contact with a police officer shouldn't be when they are pulling you over," Superintendent Ed O'Reilly said.
While plans still are being formulated, Wood said he expects officers would conduct programs on such topics as drugs and alcohol, bullying and stranger danger for the appropriate grade levels.
O'Reilly said he would like to have a program about online safety, perhaps aimed at sixth- and seventh-graders.
"Students spend so much time online and there are so many (hazards) they need to be aware of," he said. "The question is what is the best grade" for an Internet safety program.
One program that will be repeated this year will be a presentation to high school students as well as a community forum about black tar heroin, which remains a problem in central Ohio, Wood said.
"The dangerous thing about black tar heroin is that you only need to try it once and you can become addicted," he said. "It's nasty stuff."
Last March, a Drug Enforcement Agency raid was conducted at a home on Palmer Road, resulting in the arrest of the occupants and the seizure of two to three kilos of black tar heroin.
Officers also have recovered the drug on a few occasions after making traffic stops, Wood said.
The drug comes from Mexico and as been brought into a number of suburbs where gangs are not prevalent, he said.
Wood said the kind of programs police conduct in the schools this year may be influenced by the concerns raised by students and parents.
"We'd encourage anyone who has an issue they are concerned about and they think we should address to contact our department," he said.
The police department's non-emergency phone number is 614-488-7901.
O'Reilly said the district is appreciative of the police department's willingness to spend increased time in the schools.
"It will benefit our students," he said.