D.A.R.E. and S.R.O.
D.A.R.E. / School Resource Officer (SRO) Programs
In an effort to work with the Jefferson Davis Parish School Board and its administrators to reduce crime and violence in the school environment, the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office has implemented the School Resource Officers (SRO) Program and the D.A.R.E. Program in all parish schools. Together, these programs provide law enforcement services to ensure a safe learning environment for youth and educate students in a range of topics such as bullying and maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. They also act as a strong law enforcement presence in the school environment providing security, as well as support and council to students when needed.
The policy goal of these programs is to enforce all laws and maintain a learning environment, enabling students to reach their full potentials. SRO and D.A.R.E. Officers report to their assigned school location during school hours, providing a wide range of services, including student mentoring, teaching classes related to the law enforcement role and taking enforcement action for incidents occurring in school. These officers do not enforce school policies such as rules regarding school uniforms, cell phones and music devices, but will render assistance to school officials when necessary.
These specialized law enforcement officers also keep school administrators informed of issues regarding student safety, trends involving alcohol and drug abuse, emergencies involving weather related conditions or hazardous materials, road closures and issues due to weather conditions or extenuating circumstances. They also keep school officials and administrators informed of situations or incidents involving major crimes, situations warranting additional police presence on school campus, the discovery or reporting of any student incident, on or off campus, involving drinking, drugs or other illegal activity.
School Resource Officer (SRO)
The Center for the Prevention of School Violence defines a School Resource Officer (SRO) as a certified law enforcement officer who is permanently assigned to provide coverage to a school or a set of schools. The SRO is specifically trained to perform three roles: law enforcement officer, law-related counselor and law-related education teacher.
The SRO is not necessarily a DARE officer, security guard or officer/deputy who has been temporarily placed in a school in response to a crisis situation, but rather acts as a comprehensive resource for his or her school. He or she should be an example to students, balancing compassion with discipline and assisting the school system in motivating students to reach their full potential. SRO deputies provide campus protection, while building relationships and maintaining a strong and direct line of communication and awareness with school administration and students.
The SRO is also a safety officer for the school and should always evaluate the surrounding external area of the school to determine the potential for possible threats, such as railroad tracks, highways, flight patterns, etc. and the dangerous consequences a disaster in these areas could affect the school. He or she should also be involved in any safety exercises such as fire drills or any other practice drills that help prepare students for emergency situations.
Communication with school administration is the key to a successful, professional relationship between the SRO and their assigned school or schools. The SRO is a confidential source, someone who can be trusted and talked to about situations that could hamper or endanger people.
The Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office SROs are Deputy Tiffany Bertrand and Deputy Michael Hill. Deputies Bertrand and Hill travel to several of the parish schools on specific days of the week, providing a strong police presence in the parish schools, on-campus security and a source of guidance to students and school administrators.
School Resource Officers Michael Hill (left) and Tiffany Bertrand (right).
D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, CA and has been so successful it is now utilized in over 75 percent of the school districts in the United States, as well as more than 43 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. is a combined effort between specially trained law enforcement officers, schools, teachers, parents and the community to educate children about the real dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The D.A.R.E. America Organization defines a D.A.R.E. Officer as an officer that is the first line of defense in America’s schools. Their job is to educate children, but to also prevent school violence and intruders who may attempt to enter a school with the intention to harm children and others.
There are 12 science-based lessons D.A.R.E. officers cover with each of their groups. These lessons including topics such as decision-making skills, understanding risks, understanding how substances affect the brain and body, communication skills, refusal skills, how to pick friends, as well as share cool and fun things to do without using drugs. Along with these enjoyable student lessons, each participant also writes an essay and completes their D.A.R.E. Planner before graduating from the program.
D.A.R.E. graduations are held at individual schools and divided between the spring and fall, during which, several awards and certificates are distributed.
The Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office has two D.A.R.E. officers; Deputy Gale Richard and Deputy Tyler Breaux, who travel to all parish schools and speak with students throughout the school year. Both of these Deputies were required to take an 80-hour course in order to be certified through D.A.R.E before teaching any D.A.R.E. curriculum. They are also both Louisiana P.O.S.T. certified.
However, Deputy Richard and Deputy Breaux aren’t limited to just the classroom environment. Through their interactions with students, they build strong relationships with the youth they get to know and work with every day and are actively involved in a variety of youth and community events and organizations. By participating in multiple activities, they continually build strong foundations as role models with the youth of the parish and create positive influences to each generation.
Active Involvement with Positive Role Models
Deputies Richard and Breaux not only provide a strong law enforcement presence at local youth functions, but they are also integral participants in activities such as the Deputy for the Day, 4-H Achievement Day, where they assist and judge several events and various other community functions.
Deputies Breaux and Richard are available to speak to any civic group or class on many different subjects upon request. For more information or to request for a deputy to speak at your meeting or group event, contact Special Operations Commander Bill Kettler at (337) 821-2106.