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D.A.R.E. Officers Scott Brown and Christy Fruge outside the Logan County Safety Complex on Friday during the presentation of an award for Brown’s 20 years of service with D.A.R.E.

Retired Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Brown was recognized this week for 20 years of educating local kids on the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

He was presented with an award on Friday from the Illinois DARE Officers Association in recognition of his service over the last two decades.

Brown retired from the Sheriff’s Department in 2015 and now works part-time for the Mount Pulaski Police Department, but it’s often his years spent in Logan County classrooms that make him something of a local celebrity.

He joked on Friday that he could probably write a book with the memories he’s accumulated through the program since 1998 from teaching at Mount Pulaski Grade School, West-Lincoln Broadwell and Olympia South.

“I’ve just enjoyed the opportunity to be around a number of kids at the elementary age [and] inspire thought with regard to making good decisions,” Brown said.

He stressed the importance of schools having police officers involved with students at a young age, “It gives them a better opinion of law enforcement and shows them that we’re not the ‘bad guys’ they portray us as on TV.”

He’s often asked whether he considers DARE to be an effective program. “People ask ‘does it work?’ I think it does. It’s not going to work with every kid, but every kid is different,” he said.

“You have to have parental involvement to some degree; they have to coincide with the values and principles of DARE- good decision making, just making good choices about the different situations they’ll encounter.”

From personal experience, Brown knows the program has had a positive and longstanding impact on many of the students he’s taught over the years. “You [see] kids who have kids of their own now come up to you in a restaurant to introduce their kids to their old DARE teacher,” he laughed.

Lincoln Police Officer Christy Fruge, who also teaches DARE, said Friday that Brown has been a community leader for years.

“I can’t teach a DARE class without one of my students asking if I know Mr. Brown,” she said. “The kids love him. He is not the type of person that demands respect, he just gets respect.”

“He has had much success professionally and personally and I am proud he is not only a co-worker [and] fellow DARE Officer, but someone I consider a friend.”

When he’s not in the classroom or in a squad car, Brown can often be found at the front of a different type of class- at Lincoln Taekwondo, the “dojang” on Woodlawn Road that he’s run since 1982.

As he prepares to celebrate his 63rd birthday next week, Brown said that he’s been enjoying his retirement and the opportunities it affords him to exercise and stay on top of his health.

“I stay healthy to lead by example, not just for the kids in the class, but also for my own kids and grandkids.” It’s for that reason that Brown doesn’t drink or smoke and does his best to eat a healthy diet, “not that I don’t enjoy a Blizzard every now and then,” he said with a laugh.

When it comes to his latest accolade, Brown said, “I’m honored to have received the award; it was kind of unexpected, but it’s quite an honor to be recognized for something I didn’t expect recognition for, I’m just happy I was able to do what I was able to do.”

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