Pubdate: Sat, 21 Aug 2010
Source: Blue Springs Examiner (MO)
Copyright: 2010 Blue Springs Examiner
Authors: Michael Glover, The Examiner


Independence, MO - A recalculation of how much money Independence
received from a Jackson County anti-drug sales tax to fund the
D.A.R.E. program prompted the Independence Police Department to make
changes in staffing the program.

The police department each year gets money from COMBAT (countywide
anti-drug sales tax) to fund D.A.R.E. or Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

County officials and officials representing law enforcement
jurisdictions met to discuss how COMBAT money would be used for
D.A.R.E. The result was a reconfiguration on how the tax money was

Now, departments will be paid by the number of students it teaches the

Smaller cities, for example, were getting less money per student to
teach the same course bigger jurisdictions were getting. "That's not
fair," said IPD Maj. Greg Wilkinson, who worked on the issue with
Jackson County.

The recalculation hurt Independence and Kansas City because they were
a larger amount of money per student. "But we did this because we
thought it was fair," he said.

An advantage of the reconfiguration was that now the department knows
how much money in the future will be designated for D.A.R.E.

The reduction in money forced the department to rework its budget when
designating money for D.A.R.E.

Funding will pay for two D.A.R.E. officers for this school year. The
department had to cut two D.A.R.E. officers. No officers were lost,
just reassigned, Wilkinson said.

One officer reassigned was a sergeant who oversaw the D.A.R.E.
officers. He was placed in uniform patrol and took over for a retiring

The second position was a D.A.R.E. officer who was placed in uniform
patrol, Wilkinson said.

To compensate for the losses, school resource officers in the middle
schools will now teach D.A.R.E. classes. The resource officers were
trained to teach D.A.R.E.

Wilkinson said the program will not affect the way D.A.R.E. will be

The two full-time D.A.R.E. officers will teach in the elementary

"We really have leaned out the program," Wilkinson

Years ago, IPD had seven D.A.R.E. officers. COMBAT never paid all
their salaries. As years went by, the department trained school
resource officers whose job is to provide a safe environment for high
school and middle school students, Wilkinson said.

With the emergence of SROs, the department began cutting back on
D.A.R.E. officers.

"There was more pressure to have more officers on the street,"
Wilkinson said.

D.A.R.E. will be taught to 2,396 students in 28 schools in
Independence, with most of those schools being in the Independence
School District.

Wilkinson did not know the amount of COMBAT money IPD lost from the
distribution changes.

A Jackson County spokesman did not know the figure either. But a
police official said it was more than $170,000.

Dan Ferguson, a county spokesman, said the officers were not cut
because of cuts in COMBAT funding.

"Like any other sales tax right now, they're not doing really great
because of the economic conditions," Ferguson said.

He said all the cities involved in the meeting agreed that the
recalculation "was the best way to handle this situation."
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D