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The Burke County Sheriff's Office was among the first law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to implement the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program into the elementary schools. Since this inception in 1988, the program expanded to the middle school level and several officers have received intense training in order to teach Burke County students.

D.A.R.E. was developed by the Los Angeles Police Department under the tutelage of Chief Darryl Gates. The program was piloted into the fifth grade elementary school level and adhered to a strict curriculum which focused on such topics as drug use and misuse, consequences of behavior, resisting peer pressure, building self-esteem, being assertive, managing stress, media images of drug use, role models and support systems. Students were given workbooks and engaged in role playing to mirror real life situations they will one day face. At the culmination of the program, students had a graduation ceremony and received a certificate for their vow to resist drugs.

It is estimated that the Burke County Sheriff's Office has taught D.A.R.E. to over 6,500 fifth graders. In the springtime, a golf tournament is held to raise money that will buy supplies and D.A.R.E. t-shirts for each student. Although a recent news report questioned the effectiveness of D.A.R.E., the Sheriff's Office continues to support the program. No studies can undermine the following: a Burke County deputy/D.A.R.E. instructor recently ran into one of his former students who has since graduated from high school. The student told the deputy that because of a technique he had taught her in D.A.R.E seven years ago, she had been able to resist a situation in which several acquaintances were trying to talk her into smoking marijuana. Was D.A.R.E. effective for that student? You better believe it was.