Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Contact:  2003 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune 
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Impacts of the California budget continue to ripple to El Dorado County as the
sheriff's department announced it will drop the DARE program instead of cutting
jobs to help cover a $647,000 hole.

When Gov. Gray Davis finally signed a budget in August, the sheriff's
department was caught off-guard after learning $647,000 would not be arriving.
The department counted on that money to pay salaries and receive reimbursement
for training jail deputies.

"Until the last night of the legislative session, we were confident we would
have all of this money," said Nancy Egbert, director of administrative services
for EDSD.

DARE teaches schoolchildren the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use. It
costs the department $275,000 to administer each year. Roughly 140 South Lake
Tahoe fifth-grade students from Sierra House and Meyers elementary schools are
given anti-drug and self-esteem lessons through the program.

While dropping DARE would only recoup 43 percent of the $647,000, Sheriff Jeff
Neves hopes the Board of Supervisors will approve the county's covering the
remaining $372,000. Neves expects a decision before the end of next week.

Neves was dismayed about aborting the program, which he said was also important
for building community relations with youth. But with dropping DARE, it allows
Neves to keep a sergeant, jail cook and seven correctional officers as well as
money that partially funded other positions.

"My priority must be front-line law enforcement," he said.

The program runs three times on the West Slope and less at the South Shore.
Neves will let the 16-week cycle at South Shore run this year.

DARE has been dropped or changed at other law enforcement agencies across the
nation. The South Lake Tahoe Police Department altered the DARE program and
renamed it the SMART program.

Deputy Larry Olsen, who took over for Deputy Warren Berg in bringing the
program to the two elementary schools, said it remains a powerful tool in
teaching youth.

"The way I look at it, if I can get at least one kid per class then that's five
or six kids who will make the right decisions," Olsen said.
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