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Jesus Verdugo, a Cocopah tribal police officer, will teach a D.A.R.E. class to students in the Somerton Elementary School District.

The Cocopah Tribal Police Department, along with the Somerton School District, is preparing to launch its Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program for Cocopah children from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

“It hits home knowing if my own child gets that kind of education in school, it will definitely help him out in the future,” says veteran Cocopah Police Office Jesus Verdugo.

Verdugo, who has been with the police department for almost five years, recently completed an intensive two-week D.A.R.E. Officer training session in Las Vegas.

As part of their D.A.R.E. training, he and other officers learned how to develop and present lesson plans designed to teach fifth- through eighth-graders how to develop good decision-making skills and to empower themselves to lead healthy and safe lives.

D.A.R.E.’s vision statement is to create “a world in which students everywhere are empowered to respect others and choose to lead lives free from violence, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors.”

The Nevada State training coordinator also commended Verdugo following the completion of his training in a letter sent to the Cocopah Police Department, stating: “Officer Verdugo was a true pleasure to have at this training, and his conduct and demeanor reflected his professionalism as a member of law enforcement. Officer Verdugo also represented your agency in a highly professional manner.”

The D.A.R.E. course Verdugo will teach lasts 10 weeks and is taught one day per week. Verdugo himself was a D.A.R.E. student when he was in the fifth grade.

While the program has not begun yet, Cocopah tribal spokesman Jonathan Athens explained it will be operated in conjunction to the D.A.R.E. program already being run by the Somerton Police Department in the Somerton School District.

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