First Lt. Dale White, D.A.R.E. team leader, with Grand Caillou Middle School student Kriss Ann Usie.

The D.A.R.E. decision-making program has returned to Terrebonne Parish schools.

The program, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, had been operating in Terrebonne classrooms for 25 years before being discontinued in 2016.

Three deputies have been assigned full-time to manage the program, which became operational again at the beginning of this school year, the Sheriff’s Office said.

First Lt. Dale White, who has been involved with the program since 1996 and supervises its new incarnation under Sheriff Tim Soignet, said D.A.R.E. teaches kids a lot more than to “just say no” to drugs.

The program not only builds a rapport with young people but also teaches them to make more informed choices later down the line, White said.

“It’s a basic life-skills test designed to have that interaction with the kids,” White said. “With all the conflict going on between law enforcement and the general public, this helps bridge that gap. The kids get a better view of law enforcement from their officers. There are a lot of things that come into play within the lesson plans but the number-one deal is making better decisions.”

White said he has seen multiple generations of children participate in the program, which reaches out to kids in grades K-4 and also sixth-grade students.

“I see the parents that I taught years ago, and now I’m teaching their children,” he said. “It’s great to see the young people all grown up with jobs. We’re on a first-name basis with these kids. They recognize you, and you’re not a stranger anywhere in the parish. You really develop a bond with that child. You help facilitate that child’s well-being.”

White is joined by Lt. Darlene Duncan and Sgt. Blake Guidry, who recently received state certification as D.A.R.E. officers. The Sheriff’s Office said becoming a certified D.A.R.E. officer is not an easy task. Not all officers who try for the program make the mark.

The program receives much of its money from a state grant, White said.

The Lafourche Sheriff’s Office has also sponsored a D.A.R.E. program in the parish’s schools since 1990. D.A.R.E. was originally created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983.

Soignet said relaunching the D.A.R.E. program is important for the entire community.

“School safety is an on- and off-campus issue, and we must educate our youth,” he said. “This is an investment in and for the future leaders of our parish that we cannot pass up.”

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All Rights Reserved.