SOMPHON ‘SAM’ PENLAND
Parkland College Police
“It’s funny in a lot of ways, but even at that young age, I wanted to be Axel Foley. He was a person of color in a setting very unfamiliar to him. Clearly different from the officers at the Beverly Hills Police Department, they tried to make it apparent that he didn’t fit in.
“I remember appreciating his janky car and his unconventional policing methods. His approach sometimes got him into a lot of trouble, but damn, he was good. He was the underdog. His success, and later his acceptance, meant so much more to me, even though I was still a young grade-schooler when I watched it.
“My mother was loving, intelligent and hard-working, but extremely strict. She was constantly hustling to be successful as a single mom with two daughters. But for me, those years were full of varying forms of abuse with different offenders.
“I grew up in Champaign and attended Kenwood Elementary School. Because I experienced a heavy amount of trauma, school was a daily escape for me.
“In fifth grade, I met Officer Randal Taylor, the Champaign Police Department’s D.A.R.E. officer at our school. He truly made a positive impact on me.
“At a time in my life where very few adult men could be trusted, I had a safe mentor who was inspirational. I looked forward to his visits, his lessons and his words of encouragement.
“I learned the benefits of creating healthy habits, taking care of myself and saying no to drugs. I learned how to handle peer pressure and conflict in a positive way. I was a successful D.A.R.E. kid, and it was because I didn’t want to let Officer Taylor down.
“That, and I didn’t want my Mom to kill me. I wanted to keep him proud of me. Most people don’t believe it, but I kept my promise to stay drug-free.
This particular part of my answer prompted me to see whatever happened to Officer Taylor; that fifth-grade year, he said he was going to move away, but I never knew where. So less than two days ago, I found out he is now chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department — still inspirational — and it’s my turn to be incredibly proud of him for the work he is doing and how he is leading others. Well done, Chief Taylor; keep up the amazing work.
“As challenging as those life experiences were — like the home invasion that happened when I was in eighth grade — I see them all as blessings. I’m able to use my own experiences and share with others, to show them that they, too, can overcome their obstacles.
“It’s like forging a sword. There are four main components to creating something so effective. You want a sword that is strong and hardened but flexible and balanced. It’s quite complex but relatable when you think of what makes a well-rounded officer.
“It’s not easy yielding a powerful sword. We all have work to do — sometimes you go back in the fire and take another hammering before something magnificent emerges.”
On December 14, 2022, Sheriff Danny Diggs attended his last D.A.R.E. Graduation as Sheriff of York County and the City of Poquoson, Virginia at Yorktown Elementary School. Over the past 23 years Sheriff Diggs has attended dozens upon dozens of graduations and has...
Shendy, 37, will receive the award during the IACF Conference in Dallas Monday. The award honors 40 law enforcement officials under 40 from around the world who “demonstrate leadership, exemplify commitment to their profession, and have a positive impact on their…
From the D.A.R.E. Officer Training held on February 14-25, 2022 in Lincoln, IL
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – A Calcasieu Parish deputy is being recognized in a big way after spending the last two decades mentoring young adults as part of the D.A.R.E. program. “It is unbelievable, you know, I’ve done this for some many years and acknowledged so many…
Mark Chase recently was recognized as the D.A.R.E. Law Enforcement Executive of the Year. Gervais Police Chief Mark Chase was puzzled by a recent phone call he received from the regional director of the D.A.R.E. program, asking him if he had spoken with City Manager...
30 Years of Dedication and Service to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program of Ohio & D.A.R.E. America
On Wednesday evening, June 15, 2022, Lloyd Bratz & Rafael Morales of D.A.R.E. America were on hand for the state of Ohio’s D.A.R.E. Awards Banquet which was held at the Kalahari Resort & Conference Center in Sandusky, Ohio. At the banquet Officer Donald A. Wilson of the Springboro Police Department and Officer Ralph E. Tanner Jr. of the East Lake Police Department were recognized and presented with an award for the 30 Years of Dedication and Service to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program of Ohio & D.A.R.E. America.
This weekend, the men and women of the Colonie Police force are asking you to run with them, not away from them! I think many of you would agree that this is a reasonable request considering how well trained they are in the art of hot pursuit. On Sunday, the men and...
How well known is the D.A.R.E. logo? It is one of the most recognized non-profit logos in the United States, if not the world. Design Hill, the world's leading creative marketplace that caters to the creative needs of businesses ranked the 50 “coolest” T-Shirts of all...
St. Francois County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Carver has been a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) officer for 26 years. During that time, he’s worked with nearly 16,000 students at four local school districts. Carver has reached the point in his career where he…
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Copyright © 2022 D.A.R.E. America.
All Rights Reserved.