Pubdate: Wed, 25 Nov 2009
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Serious crimes like murder and robberies have slain an anti-drug
program in schools.

Kelowna RCMP have scrubbed the DARE program so more officers can work
on serious cases and general duty. Calls for service may be down, said
Supt. Bill McKinnon, but police are dealing with more serious crimes
like sexual assault, child pornography, pin-pad fraud and break-ins.

"I've gone to city hall asking for a large number (of new officers)
this year," he said. "It's to deal with an overburdened workload."

The RCMP's homicide squad has investigated two murders and two
suspicious deaths in recent weeks. Two officers and three municipal
employees have dedicated the last 18 months to the Jennifer Cusworth
murder, said McKinnon.

More complex cases are emerging in a growing community. The
co-ordinator who runs DARE and the 10 officers who teach it in Kelowna
schools will concentrate on policing when the program ends Jan. 1.

West Kelowna and Lake Country schools will continue with the program,
but police plan to reassess it in the spring, McKinnon said.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has operated in the
Central Okanagan for 11 years. RCMP intended to teach about 10 lessons
to students in 65 classes this school year on the pitfalls of using
drugs and alcohol.

There's no hard evidence the program works, but police around the
world use it. Locally, officers focus on Grade 5 students and some
Grade 8 classes.

"We do a great job getting out to Grade 5, but you're supposed to be
back in Grade 8 and Grade 11. If you can't continue to reinforce, I'm
not so sure you're doing the program justice," McKinnon said.

Police say they plan to launch a less resource-intensive program
called Project Blast Off, in which the Kelowna Rockets talk to
middle-school students about their impressions of Vancouver's Downtown
Eastside. RCMP may also introduce Gateway, an anti-drug program the
Surrey detachment offers. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake