This week, the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s, a nonprofit that fundraises for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, donated $35,000 to maintain and expand the Sheriff’s Drug Abuse and Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program to south Santa Barbara County.
After a 10-year-absence, the D.A.R.E. curriculum, which provides good decision making skills and drug and alcohol education to fifth and sixth graders, will initially expand to the Hope School District and two local private schools.
Also instrumental to the program’s return are retired Sheriff’s Deputies Jerry Cornell, who will teach D.A.R.E. curriculum in south county schools, and Leslie Avila, who has been teaching the curriculum to over 1,000 students annually in north county schools for the past four years.
Established in Los Angeles in 1983, the D.A.R.E. program spread to Santa Barbara County schools in the late 1980s, but ended locally in 2004 due to budget cuts. Six years ago, the program was reinstated in north county schools, however, according to a prepared statement from Commander Eric Koopmans, “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.”