Pubdate: Tue, 28 Oct 2003
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2003 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Ron Harris
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Citing budget cuts, Jasper Police Chief Bobby Cain was forced Monday
to do away with the department's DARE program for students in Jasper
city schools.

"It's not something I wanted to do," Cain said, "but I had no

The Drug Awareness Resistance Education program has been taught in
city schools for the past 10 years by Officer Jimmy Vann. The program
is designed to teach students in elementary school the dangers of
illegal drugs.

Vann was reassigned to the police department's detectives division

Cain said his department's budget has been slashed by more than
$131,000, forcing him to makes moves he otherwise would not have had
to make. That included doing away with the DARE program.

"Most of our budget is in salary," Cain said. "Cut $131,000 from that
and I have to shuffle people here and there and do without people we
really need."

Vann will continue to teach the program on a part-time basis until the
current class graduates in December, Cain said. Following that, the
program will cease until budget constraints are lifted.

Cain said Vann did an excellent job in his role as DARE officer the
past 10 years.

"Jimmy's done an outstanding job with it," Cain said. "It was nothing
he's done that caused this. We're just like everybody else right now.
Because of budget cuts, we have to do what we have to do."

The future of the DARE program in the city schools will be reevaluated
at the end of the year, Cain said, adding that budget cuts in the
school system will not make bringing the program back any easier.
"They're going to be in tough shape, too," he said.

Despite the cut in the program, principals at the city's schools say
they understand the reason for the decision to be made. "They know why
it had to be done," Cain said.

Cain said his department is already short-staffed with just 43 people
in the patrol, detective and drug enforcement divisions.

"About seven-and-a-half years ago we had 54 officers," Cain said. "But
now we're down to 43. We don't have any extras."

Cain had to also reassign the department's environmental officer,
Sylvester Stewart, because of budget cuts. Stewart returned Monday to
the patrol division.

"As of (Monday) morning, he's back on patrol," Cain

Cain stressed that despite the budget cuts and shortages, officers
will continue to patrol the city's streets as they always have.

"We will continue to provide what we call basic service," he said.
"We've got to have people on the streets and investigators looking
into major crimes. We've got to."

Budget cuts aren't limited to just the police department these days,
Cain said. Cuts are being made at departments across the state. "It's
not just us. It's everybody," he said. "Everybody's in the same boat
as we are."

That does little to make Monday's decision any easier.

"You've got to do what you've got to do," Cain said. "All this makes
my job really tough."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin