Pubdate: Mon, 26 Dec 2011
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2011 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Tory N. Parrish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Whitehall police Officer David Artman remembers the woman's bruised 
face when he and his partner responded to a domestic dispute. They 
left that August day, he said, with her intoxicated boyfriend in handcuffs.

Alcohol or drugs factor into domestic violence "almost every time," 
Artman told seventh-graders during a recent Drug Abuse Resistance 
Education, or D.A.R.E., program at J.E. Harrison Middle School in 
Baldwin-Whitehall School District.

The D.A.R.E. program engages kids in discussions about drug abuse, 
peer pressure, self-esteem and bullying.

Artman certainly reaches his audience, Principal Michael R. Wetmiller said.

"He's a great guy and he really gets the kids, just gets their 
attention. The kids seem to really be in tune to him," he said.

Whitehall spends about $60,000 annually on the program and expanded it 
recently in the school district because the Baldwin Borough police 
department has no D.A.R.E. officer.

But D.A.R.E. programs across Pennsylvania are scaling back or ending 
because lawmakers eliminated state funding and in-state D.A.R.E. 
certification for police officers. The Pennsylvania Commission on 
Crime and Delinquency administered the program, which cost $1.8 
million in 2009-10, its last budget year.

Today, the state has an estimated 500 D.A.R.E. officers, compared with 
1,500 officers in 2000, said Jack Killian, treasurer for the 
Pennsylvania D.A.R.E. Officers Association and a retired Pottsville 
police detective.

Police departments in Ross, Shaler and Penn Hills are among those that 
nixed D.A.R.E. programs.

The program did more than teach youths about ways to prevent drug 
abuse, Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton said.

"If nothing else, it exposed the children to police officers in the 
classroom," said Burton, noting that some students reported drug 
activities taking place in their neighborhoods and homes because of 
what they learned in D.A.R.E.

Despite Pennsylvania's cutbacks, D.A.R.E. programs nationwide have 
remained relatively stable: 10,000 communities offer programs and 
there are 15,000 active D.A.R.E. instructors, said Frank Pegueros, 
executive director of D.A.R.E. America in Inglewood, Calif.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1983, D.A.R.E. remains the most widely used 
drug-abuse prevention program, taught in 75 percent of U.S. schools 
and 43 countries.

Critics have debated its effectiveness, but in recent years, it has 
been revamped to include more interactive lessons and components that 
can be tailored to meet community-specific needs.

Police say the issue is money, not the program's effectiveness.

"The money isn't there. The people aren't there to do it. It's a 
shame, because the kids really enjoy it," said Monroeville's D.A.R.E. 
officer, Patrolman Fred Hohman, who teaches a shortened program in 
Gateway School District.

After last year's retirement of full-time D.A.R.E. officer Patrolman 
Robert Muchenski, Ross police are "doing our best to maintain and to 
foster relationships with the schools and community, but ... we are 
limited in what we can do," said Detective Brian Kohlhepp, the 
department's spokesman.

At Harrison Middle School, students said they'll remember and apply 
the lessons Artman offered.

"If someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, you can do 
what D.A.R.E. taught you and say no," said Destiny Gallimore, 12.

Antonio Molinaro, 13, learned to reject drug offers assertively.

"It's easy to say no," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.