LAYTON — Even though Salt Lake City has discontinued its DARE anti-drug program in schools, Layton's police chief believes it is an effective tool and should be maintained in Davis County's largest municipality.
"It's my recommendation that we continue as we are," Police Chief Terry Keefe told the City Council on Thursday. "DARE's not just an American program. It's in 52 countries worldwide."
He feels it's important because 6,400 fifth- and sixth-grade students in Layton a year go through the program. While he admits the program is not going to reach every child, he said his many years in law enforcement have included many success stories.
In fact, he asked, how important is the driver's education program, even though teen drivers still get tickets and have other problems after taking that mandatory instruction?
Keefe said that if nothing else, DARE helps develop a rapport between the police department and youths. They see officers in a positive way.
He said Layton gets most of the DARE curriculum free, thanks to local business sponsors, and there are 12 officers on the force trained to teach the course. They may spend about 15 percent of their time teaching DARE. Keefe said the main reason cities like Salt Lake and Bountiful drop the program is they believe officers need to spend more time on the street.
There are studies that prove the program works, and there are counter studies that claim the opposite, Keefe said. However, there are no studies in Layton that have examined the effectiveness of DARE.
Councilman Stuart Adams said he believes DARE is effective and feels preventive programs are needed because curing the full-blown problem is harder than nipping it in the bud.
Stephen Handy, another councilman, asked the city to take a look at DARE after all the recent media attention Salt Lake City got when it discontinued the program.
"I'm certainly a proponent of tax dollars being spent on drug prevention," he said.
Layton is also looking at Project Gun Safe, a youth education program that helps kids know what to do if they find a gun. Keefe feels a follow-up on drug resistance in both junior high and high school needs to be made to make DARE even more effective.
The council will continue to study the effectiveness of the "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" program.