Funds sought for DARE
by Rory Doyle
Feb 20, 2013 | 1590 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams is lobbying hard to improve the D.A.R.E. curriculum across county schools.

Williams asked the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors Tuesday to consider creating a new policy for generating funds for the program, which his department institutes in county school districts outside Cleveland.

"I'm asking that a certain amount from each ticket (traffic violations) go into the crime prevention fund, which supports D.A.R.E.," said Williams.

"We are operating on limited resources and we need to do something to generate more revenue to keep D.A.R.E. updated," added Williams.

The funding is necessary to stay abreast with new curriculum, books, materials and officer training.

For those less familiar, D.A.R.E. is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence.

The international program reaches out to millions of school children around the world.

Yolanda Harris, Bolivar County Sheriff's deputy and D.A.R.E. officer, began teaching the curriculum to fifth- and sixth-graders at Hayes Cooper Center in Merigold at the beginning of the month.

"This is essential for the children, so it's extremely important we find ways to fund D.A.R.E.," Harris said. "I'm very excited about it and so are all the kids."

Harris's original plan was to operate the program at two separate districts this semester, but lack of finances made it undoable.

And this semester would have been even more limited had it not been for the support of Cleveland Police Captain Mike McCain, the D.A.R.E. program administrator for the Cleveland School District.

McCain, who has been working with D.A.R.E. in Cleveland since 1995, loaned Harris hundreds of student books, T-shirts and medals.

"It benefits the whole community when we can get all the kids in this county through the program," said McCain. "The more students we can reach the better so we can help kids make good choices."

McCain said an assessment on each paid misdemeanor crime in Cleveland helps fund the crime prevention fund for the city, thus contributing greatly to the D.A.R.E. budget.

"We let the people who pay for these fines pay for the program," he said. "Hopefully the county can adopt something similar so we can really grow this thing."

Harris is still hopeful of instituting the curriculum at two schools each semester next school year, but funding for new books will be a necessity when the loaned ones are returned to McCain this spring.

"I'm so grateful that our two departments were able to work together," said Harris. "I didn't know how we were going to afford anything before he loaned us the books, but without more funding we're going to be extremely limited."

"We were gracious enough to receive the donation of books for the school she's at now, but we're going to need something more," added Williams.

The supervisors agreed that Williams and board attorney Linda F. Coleman could research options for drafting an ordinance to distribute a certain amount of each ticket into the crime prevention fund.

To learn more about D.A.R.E. in county schools, call the Bolivar County Sheriff's Department at 662-843-5378.

Visit www.dare.com for more information on the organization.