Officer Stephen Hackett of the Old Lyme Police Department is set to become the town's first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) instructor in over two decades. With a new focus on skill-building, the updated D.A.R.E. program aims to empower the town's youth to make responsible choices.

In a heartening turn of events, Officer Stephen Hackett of the Old Lyme Police Department is poised to become the town’s first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) instructor in over two decades. This significant milestone follows his recent completion of an intensive 80-hour training program at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy.

A Native Son’s Homecoming

Hackett, a seasoned officer with 12 years of service under his belt, transferred to the Old Lyme Police Department from Old Saybrook in 2022. A native of the town, he is deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of its young residents. The D.A.R.E. program, which first emerged in Los Angeles four decades ago and arrived in Connecticut in 1988, presents an opportunity for him to do just that.

The D.A.R.E. program has come a long way from its original ‘Just Say No’ approach. Today, it offers an interactive format called ‘keepin’ it REAL‘ that emphasizes teaching children the skills they need to make informed decisions.

The Evolution of D.A.R.E.

The new D.A.R.E. curriculum, grounded in a framework developed by prevention scientists at Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University, reflects this shift. It consists of 10 core lessons that address topics such as identifying risky situations, recognizing signs of stress, and handling bullying effectively.

In addition to these foundational units, specialized lessons have been created for fifth-graders on opioids, as well as for older students on vaping, social media safety, and teen mental health. These additions are designed to equip young people with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the complexities of modern life.

A Promising Future

With Officer Hackett at the helm, the reintroduction of the D.A.R.E. program in Old Lyme holds great promise. His dedication, combined with the program’s updated focus on skill-building, aims to empower the town’s youth with the ability to make responsible choices.

As Hackett prepares to step into his new role, he carries with him the hopes and aspirations of a community eager to see its children thrive. In doing so, he embodies the spirit of service and commitment that lies at the heart of effective policing.

Once again, Officer Stephen Hackett of the Old Lyme Police Department stands on the brink of making history. His upcoming tenure as the town’s first D.A.R.E. instructor in over 20 years marks a significant step forward in equipping the community’s youth with essential life skills.

Underpinned by an evolved curriculum that emphasizes informed decision-making, the reintroduced D.A.R.E. program promises to be a valuable asset in shaping the future of Old Lyme’s younger generation. By imparting knowledge about risky situations, stress signs, bullying, and other pertinent issues, Officer Hackett is set to play a pivotal role in this transformative journey.

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