Santa Barbara – On August 25, 2015, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the acceptance of a $35,000 donation from the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse works within our Santa Barbara County communities to increase community awareness about the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and to raise much needed funding that improves resources and programs within the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse is providing this donation to the Sheriff’s Office to help fund the continued provision and expansion of the Sheriff’s D.A.R.E program. The Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. program provides our community’s children with skills and strategies that will help them avoid negative influences, and to focus on their own strengths and realization of their potential. The Benevolent Posse’s generous donation will be instrumental in allowing the Sheriff’s Office to expand the delivery of the Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. program. After a ten year absence, the Sheriff’s Office is now able to bring the D.A.R.E. program back to the south county. The Sheriff’s Office has initially partnered with the Hope School District and two private schools and anticipates adding additional schools in the foreseeable future.
Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse President John Wilczak said he is excited to see more kids have the opportunity to experience the D.A.R.E. curriculum. “The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse is pleased to provide funding for one of the most important children’s programs offered in our schools. We would like to eventually see every fifth and sixth grader in Santa Barbara County have the opportunity to learn the important decision making skills D.A.R.E. teaches while providing students the opportunity to have positive interactions and role-modeling with law enforcement. The Santa Barbara community is urged to support the Posse in its efforts to ensure that our young people gain specific knowledge including valuable lessons concerning good decision making, online safety, bullying, drugs/alcohol/tobacco avoidance, friendship development and successful behavior. ”
Retired Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Cornell recently came back to the Sheriff’s Office as an extra-help employee in order to teach the D.A.R.E. program in south county schools. He joins veteran D.A.R.E. instructor and retired deputy Leslie Avila, who has been teaching the D.A.R.E program to more than one thousand north county students on a yearly basis, over the past four years.
The D.A.R.E. program was founded in Los Angeles in 1983. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office began providing the D.A.R.E. program county-wide in the late 1980’s with a staff of six Sheriff’s deputies. Due to budget cuts over the years, the Sheriff’s D.A.R.E program staffing was reduced and the program was stopped in 2004. Over the years, D.A.R.E. has evolved from a program that focused on saying no to drugs, into the current program that is based upon the evidence-based “Keepin’ it Real” syllabus. The Sheriff’s Office was able to reinstate D.A.R.E. in 2009, utilizing significant cost-savings afforded by the use of a retired, extra-help deputy to teach the program.
The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse has been instrumental in raising funds to assist the Sheriff’s Office in bringing back and slowly expanding the D.A.R.E. program. Commander Eric Koopmans, stated, “If it were not for the generous donations of the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse to provide what is not possible with our current budget and the willingness of Deputy Cornell to come back from retirement and teach the D.A.R.E. program we would not be able to expand the program to the South County.”
Hope School District Superintendent Daniel Cooperman is looking forward to having D.A.R.E. back within their schools. He said, “The value of D.A.R.E. is that it teaches our kids the refusal skills they need to resist negative influences that they will encounter as they mature and grow up.”
If you are interested in donating toward the Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. program, or to obtain more information about the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, visit the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse website, www.sbsheriffsposse.org.