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Last Updated: 02/23/2018

 Article of Interest - Drug Prevention Programs

saginaw news logoCounty's biggest suburb drops D.A.R.E.

The workhorse of anti-drug education in Saginaw Township schools is headed to pasture.
by Bryce Hoffman, The Saginaw News, Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Police are scrapping a 10-year-old commitment to D.A.R.E. -- Drug Abuse Resistance Education -- in favor of a home-grown program known as "Smart Moves."

Bay City police officers designed the curriculum, which has a manual 10 times thicker than the course materials from D.A.R.E., said Saginaw Township Lt. Gary P. Grauf.

Smart Moves incorporates lessons on gangs, bicycle safety, drugs, alcohol, the danger of strangers and other issues affecting young people.

"It looks like a real promising program," he said.

The D.A.R.E. program is taught in 80 percent of American school districts, but it has come under increased scrutiny. Watchdog groups, law enforcement and media organizations have questioned its effectiveness.

Grauf said Saginaw Township has no beef with D.A.R.E. The move is based on a desire to expand several youth-oriented programs under one umbrella, he said.

Unlike D.A.R.E., which targets fifth graders for 17 weeks with an anti-drug message, "Smart Moves" reaches youngsters at several grade levels with several messages, Grauf said. Saginaw Township pupils will receive Smart Moves instruction in grades one, three, seven, nine and 10.

Officers also intend to drop in for informal school visits during lunches and recess, Grauf said.

Resource officers Jon Stinson, Elizabeth Collison and Christopher Fredenburg will handle most of the elementary and middle school duties. School resource officer Donald Koski will teach high school classes.

Despite the recent criticism directed at D.A.R.E., Frankenmuth Public Schools administrators have no plans to drop the program.

"We're really pleased with the program and the curriculum," said Superintendent Michael Murphy.

"I don't think there's any program out there that's the silver bullet that will stop drug use among students, but we think (D.A.R.E.) is as effective as any program out there."

The Saginaw Police Department stopped funding the Saginaw School District's D.A.R.E. program two years ago because of budget constraints, school officials said.

Meanwhile, the Saginaw Township Police Department restructured its Crime Prevention Unit and its community policing office in the southern part of the township to accommodate the Smart Moves project. It also reassigned the D.A.R.E. officer.

The school district pays the department a prorated amount of money for instructional costs, Grauf said.

The overhaul is part of Chief Stephen C. Renico's "Forward to Basics" philosophy. The idea is to put more emphasis on community outreach and crime prevention, Grauf said.

The millage that pays for the Saginaw Township police does not expire until 2013, so the department will not have any extra money to hire more officers for at least a decade, Grauf said.

Administrators hope an ounce of prevention will conserve crime-fighting dollars down the road by producing law-abiding young adults and better community relations.

"If we're going to try to keep things under wraps and keep crime down, we've got to go out and enlist the public as allies," Grauf said.

Principals and administrators from Saginaw Township Community Schools met with police Monday about the changeover.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Sandra K. Galko, principal of Plainfield Elementary, 2775 Shattuck. "It's going to help the Police Department establish a better rapport. The children need as many role models as they possibly can have." t

Bryce Hoffman covers law enforcement for The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9673.


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