COSTA MESA : Police to Expand DARE Program

Concerned that the local Drug Awareness Resistance Education program would be trimmed to save money, a group of parents this week persuaded city police to expand the elementary school curriculum.

Local police have had two officers teach the 17-week DARE program to mostly fifth- and sixth-grade students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

But because of budget constraints, police considered cutting the program to one officer.

That galvanized Debbie Boyer, whose daughter had graduated from the DARE program at Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach.

"I heard that it might be in the works that DARE would be scaled back," said Boyer, who is a member of the Newport Beach Gang Task Force. "So I asked the 28 PTA presidents in Newport-Mesa School District to sign a petition asking (the Police Department) to consider keeping the program at status quo."

After meeting Tuesday with Police Chief David L. Snowden, it was agreed that the DARE program would keep its two officers and, for the first time, expand to include a crime prevention officer to deliver an anti-gang message.

"We want kids to become comfortable with police officers, and maybe see the (officers) out on the street," Boyer said.

In addition to the two local police officers, students who attend Newport-Mesa Unified schools are also taught by two Newport Beach officers, one full time and the other part time.

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