Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Anti-drug program to get ax

City Council ending officers' DARE visits

By Randy Tucker,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Council is expected to eliminate the DARE anti-drug program today, following a council committee's vote Tuesday recommending funding for the program be ended next year.

        Councilman James Tarbell introduced the motion at the end of a Law and Public Safety Committee meeting.

        With little debate, five committee members voted to support the measure, saying the Cincinnati police officers assigned to the

        Drug Abuse Resistance Education program could be better used on street patrols.

        The measure needs five votes to pass council.

        “DARE has not proven to be effective, and we desperately need more uniformed officers on the street as a preventive force,” Mr. Tarbell said.

        The city spends $351,000 a year on the anti-drug program, in addition to a $85,000 grant.

        Freeing up the city's portion could put seven more officers on the streets, he said.

        Mr. Tarbell's proposal comes amid national debate over the effectiveness of DARE, which begins as early as kindergarten and continues to 10th grade in some schools.

        In Cincinnati, a handful of police officers assigned to the DARE program visit up to 75 public and private schools each year.

        But studies have shown that the message DARE gives kids is too weak to hold up when they are older and more likely to be tempted by drugs.

        The reaction from Cincinnati Public Schools was one of resignation and disappointment.

        “We had heard rumors that funding might be cut,” said Jan Leslie, a CPS spokeswoman. “This is a city program, and if they have determined that it's not effective, we would bow to their determination.

        “But having those officers in our schools, developing positive relationships with our students, we think has been good for the schools and our communities.”

        A proposed one-third cut to the program in 2000 would have mostly targeted parochial schools, and City Council reversed that decision.

        Law Committee Chairman Pat DeWine called Mr. Tarbell's move “courageous.”

        “The citizens by and large understand that we need more officers on the streets,” he said.

        “It may not be fun, but it's the right thing to do.”

        Police spokesman Lt. Kurt Byrd said the department would follow City Council's direction.

        Gregory Korte contributed.



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