Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2003
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Duncan News Leader
Author: Jennifer Hourihan


More Cowichan Valley kids will be getting training from police in how to 
avoid drugs and violence as four more local Mounties become DARE instructors.

The four Valley cops - North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Constables Jennifer 
Prunty, Calvin Beers and Lillian Gondo and Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Ray 
Carfantan - are among 30 from across B.C. currently taking training to 
teach DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education.)

Increasing the number of local kids who take the DARE course is one of the 
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP's goals, Prunty said.

"It's an important aspect of crime prevention and reaching out to youth," 
she said during a break from training at the Traveller's Inn in Cowichan 
Bay. "It builds a relationship. If I start talking to these kids in Grade 
5, in Grade 8 they're still going to know me."

It's that connection between DARE officers and the kids they teach that 
makes the program work, says RCMP Cpl. Sharon Cooke, who is training the 
officers to teach DARE.

"The relationship kids have with a DARE officer is very unique. You become 
'their' DARE officer. They take possession of you."

The DARE course is offered to kids in Grade 5 and 6, before they hit the 
worst ages for pressure to try drugs. That's also an age where kids tend to 
respect and admire the police, and are willing to listen to them.

"If we tell them how valuable they are, they're going to listen," Prunty 
said. "It reinforces our message."

The course - consisting of 17 sessions usually done once per week - is more 
than simply telling kids not to do drugs, Cooke said.

"This a life skills program. We're not just saying to them, 'Just say no.' 
We're offering them decision-making skills."

To become DARE instructors, police officers have to apply through an essay 
and interview process, and then go through the intensive two-week training 
currently underway in Cowichan Bay.

The process is taken very seriously, Cooke said, and not everyone passes 
the course.

"We have to be confident they're going to be a competent DARE officer," she 
said. "If they go in and don't give it everything they have, the kids don't 
benefit." Prunty said she's long been interested in being a DARE officer 
and is looking forward to getting to teach the course in schools.

"I have an interest in teaching kids and I think that age is when you're 
going to have a big impact," she said. "I'm looking forward to all the 
different little personalities. It's going to be a rewarding aspect of my 
job to steer them toward something positive."
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