Friends to Follow

Stay Connected


Meriden eliminating DARE program, adding officer to city schools


MERIDEN — The city will eliminate its long-running Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for fifth-graders and replace it with a police officer for elementary schools.

Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said Wednesday that the elimination won’t leave a void in alcohol, drug, and safety education, as the schools already have “redundant material between the DARE classes and the health classes.”

In a written statement, Cossette said, “After the Sandy Hook tragedy, we conducted a security assessment within all of our schools, including the elementary schools. It was apparent that a void existed in regards to our presence within the eight elementary schools. I have decided to redirect our efforts from the DARE program to a full-time elementary school resource officer.”

DARE has been in the city public and parochial schools for more than 20 years, with police officers educating fifth-grade students about drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence.

“This is something I’ve been considering for a while now,” Cossette said.

Five police officers, called school resource officers, work in the city’s schools — one in each of the three high schools, and one in each of the two middle schools.

The new plan will add a sixth school resource officer who will rotate among the city’s eight elementary schools.

Assistant School Superintendent Robert Angeli said Wednesday, “We appreciate the partnership we have with the police department here. In that vein, if the police feel that this change is going to be beneficial for their interaction with the schools as well as their contact with the children and parents of the community, then it’s worth taking a look at.”

City Councilor Kevin Scarpati, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, said he worked with Cossette to develop the plan.

“I don’t necessarily look at it as cutting the DARE program, but enhancing what’s already in place,” Scarpati said.

“I do know that the DARE program is a very popular program with parents, students, and educators,” Angeli said. “It’s shifted its focus recently, where it’s not strictly on drug and alcohol prevention, but it’s about making good decisions as well. I think as long as we don’t lose that piece, we’re heading in the right direction.”

Cossette said a school resource officer will be able to deal with issues typically not handled by DARE officers, including traffic and family matters.

“We have a huge issue with traffic at the elementary schools,” Cossette said.

The elementary school resource officer will be in charge of “establishing and maintaining safe traffic patterns for buses, parent drop-off, and pedestrians,” Cossette said. Police are meeting next week with school officials and the city’s traffic engineering staff to assess the traffic patterns.

Both Scarpati and Cossette said teachers and administrators at the elementary schools encounter more parent- and family-based issues than their counterparts at the middle and high schools.

“At the elementary schools, they deal more with custody and domestic issues,” Scarpati said. “If a parent comes to the school to pick up their child, and they’re not supposed to, you’ll have an officer there to assist, not just an administrator.”

Ultimately, Cossette said the plan should “do more with what we have.”

“DARE is 13 hours of education throughout the school year,” he said. “What we’re doing here is a better way to utilize the resources we have.”

mcallahan@record-journal.com (203) 317-2279 Twitter: @MollCal



Back to MeridenNews
Top Stories of the Week

Police: Wallingford man’s cancer scam nets over $22,000 …
WALLINGFORD — Police say a local man collected over $22,000 through community fundraisers by claiming to have terminal brain cancer, despite never being diagnosed with … more ...

Warrant: Wallingford man shaved head, had people drive him to …
WALLINGFORD — Tyler Tomer’s life changed dramatically in 2014 when he told his girlfriend he was diagnosed with brain cancer and only had six to … more ...

Meriden police capture man after car crash, fire …
MERIDEN — Police have captured a man they said ran from officers after his car struck a police cruiser and another car, causing a fire … more ...

Felony charges added for Meriden man accused in police pursuit, …
MERIDEN — What started as an attempt by a police officer to pull over a motorist for misuse of license plates turned into a police … more ...

Throwback Thursday: Remembering ‘a very different life’ at Meriden’s Undercliff …
MERIDEN — A 1924 predecessor of the Record-Journal described the then-named Undercliff Sanatorium something “in which everyone (in Meriden) takes pride.” Over the course of … more ...

Comments