Pubdate: Tue,  1 Oct 2002
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Contact:  2002 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Retired South Lake Tahoe police Officer Paul Huard treats elementary
students like he did criminals: he wants them to learn, respect him and

Huard, known as "Officer Paul," has taken over the DARE program. In the
process, he has renamed, restructured and expanded it to the SMART program.

But he still drives the same purple paddy wagon.

Officer Paul, 56, the original South Lake Tahoe DARE officer in the 1980s,
has viewed the evolution of students while the school drug program remained

DARE, which only addressed the drug problem of students, didn't touch upon
violence, the importance of self-esteem or understanding cultural diversity,
Officer Paul said.

"It was a good program in it's time," Officer Paul said about the DARE
program. "Things in school now are different. It doesn't mean drugs aren't a
problem, but kids are growing up in a complex society."

DARE started around 1985 with a union between the Los Angeles Police
Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District to combat the drug

Drug Abuse Resistance Education then grew across the nation.

Created through grant money, SMART, which is an acronym of Special Mentor
And Resistance Techniques, is a pilot program that Officer Paul will work
with for a few years to help get off the ground.

In his presentations, Officer Paul is like a cartoon character. His voice
pitch is never the same, his face contorts in a thousand different
expressions and his body movement's are similar to Gumby's.

Officer Paul uses those tactics to grab fifth-graders' attention. At that
grade level, Officer Paul said, students have not made up their mind on
substance abuse issues.

His uniform lets students know that he is an authoritative figure.

"They see the officer in a positive helping role, as a mentor," he said.
"The idea of the program is to have fun but to learn. It gives them a
different perspective of a police officer."

Officer Paul, who retired after nearly 20 years with the police department,
was excited to get back with the students. Last week, he visited Al Tahoe
Elementary School for the third installment of his lesson.

The lesson was on gateway drugs -- alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Officer
Paul said it took him some time to "get back in the zone" and he had to
alter his presentations a bit when his audience was faltering in attention.

But hands shot up like bottle rockets when he asked for volunteers to hand
out papers.

At the end of his half-hour presentation, fifth-graders soaked in Officer
Paul's message.

"I learned smoking, alcohol and marijuana are bad for your body," said
Christina Ramos. "I won't do drugs. It's bad for you and your body."
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