Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jun 1998
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) 
Fax: (414) 224-8280 
Author: Betsy Thatcher, Journal Sentinel staff


While other communities are dumping the anti-drug program DARE, the
police-taught school series is alive and well in Waukesha County.

"In this county, I've got people beating the doors down for DARE," said
Waukesha County Sheriff William Kruziki.

His problem, he said, is having the financial resources to satisfy the
demand for DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

A Shorewood School District committee has recommended that DARE be replaced
with a non-law enforcement based program called Life Skills in Shorewood's
sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Under the recommendation, DARE still would
be taught by police, but only to third-graders in three sessions.

The DARE curriculum is taught by a specially trained police officer
typically in 17 sessions (usually one class period per week) to
fifth-graders. Some police agencies also offer a shorter DARE program for
seventh-or eighth-graders, often referred to as "advanced DARE."

DARE, which operates in about 70% of the school districts nationwide and 78%
of Wisconsin districts, was developed in 1983 by former Los Angeles Police
Chief Daryl Gates and then-Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Harry Handler.

The DARE program involves a uniformed officer going into the classroom and
talking about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and gang issues, as well as such
themes as self-esteem, decision-making and social responsibility.

"DARE is as strong as ever," Menomonee Falls police officer Richard
Schwabenlander said. "I don't know of any community in our county in which
DARE is in jeopardy."

Schwabenlander is president of the Waukesha County DARE Officers Association
and immediate past president of the Wisconsin DARE Officers Association.

Communities like Shorewood and Seattle, Wash., have shunned DARE in favor of
other programs, citing studies that conclude that DARE is ineffective in the
fight against teen drug abuse.

One study, performed by the University of Illinois-Chicago, concluded that
DARE failed to produce any long-term positive behavioral effects and that in
some districts students exposed to DARE appeared to be more likely to be
involved with drugs than students not exposed to DARE.

"I think that is utter nonsense," said Waukesha County District Attorney
Paul Bucher, who is widely considered among county law enforcement officials
to be the program's biggest and most influential booster.

Bucher questioned the scientific soundness of recent national studies that
have bashed DARE. Moreover, it is impossible to measure the "intangible"
benefits of the DARE program, he said.

"My biggest complaint has always been that people expect way too much out of
the DARE program," Bucher said. "When it doesn't solve all adolescent drug
and alcohol problems, they declare it a failure. It's just not the silver
bullet and it is not meant to be."

DARE is only one weapon in the arsenal most communities deploy to combat the
problems facing youth today, Bucher said.

"I have not heard anybody say, 'Let's dump DARE' in Waukesha County," Bucher
said. "If I did, I'd fight it tooth and nail."

The Sheriff's Department has four deputies working full time and one part
time in 46 schools in the Arrowhead, Hamilton, Kettle Moraine, Mukwonago,
and Oconomowoc school districts and a portion of the Waukesha School
District, Kruziki said.

The department teaches about 2,000 fifth-graders and 800 seventh-graders
yearly. The deputies also have less-structured contact with about 10,000
kindergarten through fourth-grade students yearly, according to department

Elsewhere in the county, DARE is taught in the Eagle/Palmyra, Elmbrook,
Hartland, Menomonee Falls, Muskego, New Berlin and Pewaukee schools,
Schwabenlander said.

It also is taught in numerous parochial and private schools throughout the
county, officials said.

Like Bucher, Kruziki questions the studies that have been critical of DARE.

"You can make numbers look any way you want them to look. It's very
difficult to measure DARE," Kruziki said. "People refer to it as a 'feel
good' or warm-and-fuzzy program, but what is the alternative? Nobody's
really come to me and truly disproved DARE."

Among the program's intangibles is the positive relationship often fostered
between police and children, Kruziki said.

"The officer's not there to teach the kids not to do drugs; the parents
should be doing that," he said. "I'd feel bad if we took the cops out of the

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett