New Highland County DARE Officer Brandon Young said he has heard the rumors that the program does not work. He has a different view, believing no one will ever know how many students the program has helped.
“A little boy was seen standing on the beach, tossing a starfish back into the water that had washed upon the shore,” Young said Tuesday, recounting a story he heard at DARE Officer Training, from which he graduated last Friday. “More starfish continued to wash up when an older man walked over to the boy and asked, ‘Do you really think you’re making a difference?’ The boy picked up another starfish and tossed it back into the water, and said, ‘I did that for that one.’”
Young, who has been with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office since 2005, will pick up a program that was dropped when former DARE Officer Bobby Stroop retired in May of last year.
Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said his office has an agreement to start working with students in the Bright Local and Fairfield school districts this year, and he hopes the program grows from there.
“The other school districts have resource officers at their schools, but Fairfield and Bright Local do not, so those are the ones we’re going to focus on for now,” Barrera said.
The sheriff said he hopes to expand the program in the future.
For now, Barrera said, Young will continue his current road duties four days a week, then will take one day a week to work with the DARE program. The sheriff said Young’s time working with DARE could expand in the future.
Barrera said Young is glad the sheriff decided to bring the program back and that the deputy is anxious to get started.
Young started working for the HCSO as a jailer in October 2005, transferred to the communications division in 2012 and was promoted to the road patrol division in 2016.
“I am still learning every day. I hope to pass my knowledge on to this younger generation,” Young said in a news release. “Training was quite an adventure and was very demanding.”
Twenty-three officers from Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia attended the training, with many saying it was the hardest training they have encountered, but also indicating they felt it was well worth it, according to Barerra.
“Many ask how hard it could be to talk with a bunch of school kids,” Barrera said in the news release. “After presenting his first lesson in Westerville, Young stated he felt many take it for granted how intelligent today’s students are.”
Young’s training will allow him to work with K-4, elementary, middle and high school curriculums and enhancement lessons on topics including methamphetamine, inhalants, current drug trends, bullying and internet safety. Most DARE lesson plans are based on 10 weeks, with another two to three weeks of enhancement lessons, according to Barrera.
“The DARE community program consists of lessons designed to address specific needs of local DARE communities. This program constitutes a living document, meaning as needs may develop, DARE America will continue to create relevant lessons,” Barrera said in the news release. “These would be lessons designed by educators who are experts in the field, with input from DARE instructors and subject matter experts. Lessons can address current drug trends in use, methamphetamine and one’s community, inhalants and bullying. Although these lessons are complete as designed, additional information beneficial to the community may be added.”
The DARE Program is believed to be the most comprehensive drug prevention program in the world. It is taught to thousands of schools through America’s states and territories, as well as more than 50 other countries, reaching more than 1.5 million students, the news release said.
The sheriff said that according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “The DARE Program offers students the opportunity to gain a trustworthy adult friend, develop a positive attitude toward law enforcement personnel, and acquire greater respect for the law.”