CHUBBUCK — After fours years of being away, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, is back in Chubbuck schools.
And DARE officer Scott Conlin — who grew up in Chubbuck and still recognizes many of the teachers — is happy to serve his community and help impact youths.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “I live in this area, so I know a lot of the kids as well. So I have a lot of kids that actually live around me that I teach, so it’s kind of fun that way because I know a lot of them but then I get to meet a lot of others.”
The Chubbuck Police Department made the tough decision four years ago to stop the DARE program after a significant shortage of officers. Now, with a full staff, the department is able to bring the program back. Lessons began after the conclusion of winter break.
The community, Conlin says, is thrilled. Chubbuck police Lt. Bill Guiberson said the program has received plenty of support from Mayor Kevin England, Chubbuck City Council and various businesses who donated to the program.
“They’re really excited,” Conlin said. “Every parent I’ve talked to … and going into the schools I’ve had teachers come up to me and they’re like, ‘What do you need us to do?’ … The (community) was a little heartbroken when it got taken away, but now they’re pumped.”
Conlin teaches 12 classes per week to Chubbuck’s elementary schools, including Connor Academy Public Charter School. Curriculum consists of the DARE decision making model, which presents students with situational problems and has them come up with solutions.
“(DARE) still focuses on the drugs and saying no,” Conlin said. “But a lot of it is just trying to teach them every life responsibility and making good choices.
“If you make good choices, you get good consequences. Obviously, you make a bad (choice), you get a bad (consequence).”
Though there are schools of thought that believe the DARE program is ineffective, Conlin believes it’s up to the student to determine how much information they soak up and what they learn from it.
So far, Conlin says, kids are interested and involved.
“From what I’ve seen so far, all the kids are engaged,” he said. “They all want to participate. They all want to raise their hand. They get bummed if they don’t get picked. So really it’s how much the kids put into it.”
While the DARE program allows Conlin to teach children the values of making right decisions, it’s also an opportunity for him to reach out to those students who look at police officers and law enforcement with nervousness and fear.
“A lot of kids — even adults — they look at us and they see the uniforms and they automatically judge us,” Conlin said. “It’s kind of one of those things where they can see I’m a person, too. I still like to laugh. I still like to have fun. I’m serious when I need to be serious, but we will have fun with it.”
Guiberson echoed that sentiment, saying that he still remembers the police officer that came to talk to his school and the mark it left on him when he was a kid.
“It’s a huge impact for the kids to have a good interaction — a positive interaction — with law enforcement,” Guiberson said.
For Chubbuck police, four years without the DARE program in its community was four years too long. Guiberson and Conlin are happy to see it back in their schools.
“We’re glad we’re doing it,” Guiberson said. “The city recognizes it’s important. The police department recognizes it’s important to the community and to the kids, and we’re fortunate to be able to do it.”