Oconomowoc To Lose DARE

Oconomowoc To Lose DARE
Posted by FoM on June 15, 2000 at 07:46:33 PT
By Amy Rinard of the Journal Sentinel staff
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Oconomowoc has become the first school district the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department has dropped from its anti-drug-use DARE program - and it may not be the last, Sheriff William Kruziki has warned."As the county grows and services increase, I can't take any more officers out of patrol," Kruziki said. "I've got to prioritize my manpower. I just don't have the people to do it all."
After one of four DARE officers left the program, the decision to drop Oconomowoc's seven elementary schools from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for fifth-graders was made reluctantly and purely for financial reasons, the sheriff said in an interview Tuesday.Originally, the four positions came from the department's patrol unit. Without more money to hire another officer, Kruziki said, he decided to reassign one of the positions back to patrol."I'm just taking one position back," he said. "And I may have to take back another at some time."The remaining three DARE program officers will conduct programs in 30 schools throughout Waukesha County this fall.Kruziki said the decision to drop Oconomowoc from the program was a difficult one, because he believes so strongly that the DARE program benefits youths.The program, primarily for fifth-grade students, emphasizes the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and teaches children how to resist peer pressure and reject drug and alcohol use.The 17-week program, which usually ends with a graduation ceremony, also provides counseling for students struggling with drug and alcohol issues."When you go to a DARE graduation, you see the interaction between the officers and the kids and how much of a relationship has been built up," he said. "We don't have much of an opportunity anymore to do that. This is one of the best programs to build relationships with kids."Kruziki said his decision to end the program at Oconomowoc schools was made somewhat easier because the city provides a full-time school-police liaison officer.He suggested that one option in the absence of the county-run DARE program would be for the Oconomowoc Police Department to conduct DARE programs at the schools."Some villages have their own DARE officers," Kruziki said. "I am hoping some of the municipalities will take a look at doing it with their own officers."However, Lt. Jeffrey Schmidt, operations officer for the Oconomowoc Police Department, said that his agency will not launch its own DARE program for the local schools."At least in the short term, we're not going to be able to do that," Schmidt said Tuesday. "We're not in a position ourselves manpower-wise to do it."He said the department's full-time school-police liaison officer is assigned to the high school only.An application is being made for federal funding for another school-police liaison officer to be assigned to the middle school. "But as it stands right now, we have not been awarded a grant for that," Schmidt said.Even if that position is funded, fifth-grade students for whom the DARE program is designed do not attend middle school, he said.In addition, several elementary schools in the sprawling Oconomowoc School District are not in the city and are outside the jurisdiction of the police department. Two of the elementary schools are in the Town of Oconomowoc, one is in Jefferson County and another is in Dodge County.While Kruziki and District Attorney Paul Bucher have been outspoken advocates of the DARE program, others, including some County Board supervisors, have been less enthusiastic about it. Last fall during action on the county budget, several members of the County Board's Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee said they were not convinced DARE was worth the cost.The county spends about $420,000 a year on the program of which about $200,000 is reimbursed with state and federal money and from other sources."That's a lot of money, but until we come up with something better, I'm not going to criticize it," Supervisor Mareth Kipp of North Prairie, chairman of the committee, said of the program.She said Kruziki's move to drop Oconomowoc from the program caught committee members off guard."We're all disappointed," she said. "Maybe Oconomowoc will be able to think this through because there is a stipend from the county for communities that do their own DARE programs."Greg Maass, school district superintendent, was on vacation, and a phone call to the School District office seeking comment was not returned Tuesday or Wednesday.Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 15, 2000.NewsHawk: Frank S. World DARE Archives: & Drug Policy Information:
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