Glendale makes case for returning D.A.R.E. officers to schools - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Glendale makes case for returning D.A.R.E. officers to schools

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Glendale is the latest city to cut the police department's D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs because of budget cuts.

The last two positions were eliminated three weeks ago, but that didn't stop dozens of people from showing up at Tuesday's city council meeting. 

The cut program was not on the council agenda but at the end of the meeting during citizen comments, a student, a parent and a school principal expressed how much the officers have touched the lives of so many students and had such a positive impact at the schools they support.

About 150 people turned out Tuesday night wearing red T-shirts to show the Glendale City Council how critical the officers are to the schools and all of their students. 

One principal said it's only been 22 days since the position was cut, yet her school already misses the level of support from one of the officers in particular, an officer who made a difference for countless kids. He taught them to do the right thing and make the right choices.

"This program is so important because I learned so much from Officer Bud. He taught me so much like what to do like when I was under peer pressure and what to do if I was forced to try drugs or something," said sixth-grader Carlie Ranno.

Challenge Charter School Principal Wendy Miller said that officer meant a lot to their school.

"He is changing our future. I am not comfortable with our future without people like Officer Bud, building that familiarity and that trust with our law enforcement," said Miller.

Miller said even though the program's already been cut, Tuesday's turnout was not in vain.

"We're teaching our kids every day about civic responsibility and their voice matters in the process, so this is not only an opportunity to keep Bud in our school, but also get them involved in their local politics, which is critical," said Miller.

The officers were reassigned to patrol. Glendale's Interim Police Chief Debora Black told CBS 5 the city's budget crisis forced them to make tough choices and the officers were needed more in core services.

But she said the department does have a new initiative that puts officers on campuses.

"We do have officers that are connecting with schools and connecting with kids. Not necessarily in the form of programs of D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T., but we do have school officers on campuses in a school resource aspect in an off-duty model," Black said.

Tuesday's city council meeting was a chance for the council to hear from the community. They acknowledged no one wants to see the popular program go away.

Budget talks will be coming together over the next couple of months, and some of the members say they will look to find a way to see if they can bring the D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs back to the students.  

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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