Provo schoolchildren of all ages are learning each year the dangers of drug abuse, but not through the police-sponsored DARE Program used by most cities and school districts.
About five years ago the Provo Police Department and Provo School District decided that the state-sponsored Prevention Dimensions Program accomplishes the same goals as the DARE Program. By sticking with that program and not putting money into DARE, more police officers could remain on the streets."We reviewed the objectives of both programs and compared them and felt that in almost every instance they are identical," said Kathy Luke, Provo School District director of elementary education.
District officials acknowledge that the program doesn't give students contact with uniformed officers and provide the public relations service that DARE does. Luke said the programs are so similar, however, that it came down to a money issue. The personnel and material costs of DARE were an expense that neither party wanted to incur.
"We determined that we didn't have the money and they determined they didn't have the money," Luke said.
Provo Police Capt. George Pierpont said not participating in DARE was a philosophy adopted by former Police Chief Swen Nielsen. He believed other school and police programs accomplished the same goals as DARE at less cost.
"He thought we were covering the same subject matter and accomplishing the same things with our youth officers and Officer Friendly Program," Pierpont said.
That philosophy could change with the appointment two weeks ago of a new police chief. DARE representatives likely will approach Chief Gregory Cooper about joining the program.
If that happens, however, it won't be at the district's recommendation. Luke said the district is satisfied with Prevention Dimensions, a program sponsored by the Department of Human Services and administered locally through Wasatch Mental Health Center.
"If the teachers follow the curriculum the program covers all (drug education) academic objectives," she said.
The state program trains teachers and provides material kits used in teaching the curriculum. Each teacher is expected to incorporate the program into the regular classroom, but the curriculum is not required.