PLAINVILLE – In 1983, the Los Angeles Police Department recognized that enforcement alone was not enough to slow the rising tide of illicit drug use in the city. So a partnership was established between the L.A.P.D. and the Los Angeles Unified School District to develop a drug resistance education program for elementary school students. Today, that program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is used across the country.
D.A.R.E. arrived in Plainville more than 25 years ago, and over the ensuing decades, several thousand local students have gone through the program.
Officer Jessica Guerrette has taught D.A.R.E. for four years at Linden, Wheeler and Toffolon elementary schools. She pointed out that the current curriculum is not just about dissuading drug use.
Guerrette said D.A.R.E. also shines a light on the dangers of alcohol and vaping, and teaches decision-making skills and how to deal with peer pressure and other stressful situations.
Guerrette, the School Resource Officer at Plainville High School, said D.A.R.E. classes “involve role-playing, teamwork, games, open conversations,” and more.
After 10 weeks, students graduate from the program.
Guerrette said D.A.R.E. instructors – all members of law enforcement – undergo training ”where they learn to teach, engage and interact with students on a variety of different topics.”
Mark Medford is the Northeast Regional Director of D.A.R.E. America and was a D.A.R.E. instructor during most of his policing career. Medford said teaching the program “was always a passion.”
“I see the positive impact of law enforcement connecting with youth and the community,” he added.
Guerrette would agree. She said when it comes to D.A.R.E., the town of Plainville “is very supportive of this program, as are the principals at the elementary schools.”
Guerrette continued, “The class is not just about teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum, but also making a police presence at the school, forming bonds with the students, and making the Plainville community feel safe.”