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D.A.R.E. Program Returning to Knox County Schools Fall 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - During Safety Day at the Smokies Stadium on Monday, the Knox County Sheriff's Office along with Knox County Schools officials announced they would be bringing back its Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in fall 2019.

KCSO announcing the program's return also on its Facebook page, saying Sheriff Spangler, Officer Palmer and KCS Superintendent Thomas "have worked diligently to bring back this valued program that is designed to educate fifth grade students about drug resistance."

The Safety Day announcement was to current KCS 4th graders, who by next fall will be in the 5th grade and will see the actual re-implementation of the D.A.R.E. program in Knox County Schools. D.A.R.E. programs began in the early 1980s to educate young children on the dangers of drug and alcohol use and the consequences, as well as strategies to resist them.

Sheriff Spangler speaks on D.A.R.E....

D.A.R.E. won't be implemented in every fifth grade class, according to Spangler, because some schools can't fit the curriculum into the schedule.

Spangler said there will be four D.A.R.E. officers who will teach the program for one hour, once a week, for ten weeks.

Despite some research stating the program was ineffective, Spangler said he couldn't disagree more.

"You save one life, it's successful because you got through to somebody. And the success part too is the officers who are doing it. They believe in it. And if you believe in it, you're going to sell it and you're going to sell it hard," Spangler said.

Officer Shelia Palmer said she's the person putting the program together this time.

Palmer participated in the D.A.R.E. training in the 90s. She that although she hasn't gone through the new training yet, she has noticed a few differences in the curriculum.

"All we really talked about before was marijuana and alcohol and tobacco. Now, D.A.R.E.'s bringing in the opiates, vape and all the other things that are happening now," Palmer explained.

She said she also noticed new teaching plans that included students learning how to handle pressure or bullying via technology.

Spangler said the biggest difference he noticed with the D.A.R.E. program now is discussing opioids.

"That's going to be one of the things that we concentrate, or they concentrate on, on getting that information out. It's not just the opioids, but it's a big problem," Spangler said.

KCSO K-9 trainers and officers were also present at Safety Day for demonstrations and to get the kids excited for law enforcement and its role in the community.

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