Hudson DARE Prepares Officers to Combat Youth Drug Use

January 30, 2015
Staff photo by AJ Dickinson  Master Patrolman Cassandra Avery

Staff photo by AJ Dickinson Master Patrolman Cassandra Avery

by AJ Dickinson

Master Patrolman Cassandra Avery, a member of the Hudson police force since 2005, just recently graduated from the D.A.R.E. academy, which took place somewhat ironically at the fire academy in Concord.  The 10-day Drug Abuse Resistance Education program entails one of the most intensive training courses an officer can undergo.

From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. these individuals learn such skills as quick thinking, extreme preparation, confidence, public speaking, all on top of the increasingly dense and rapidly changing curriculum.  When these officers graduate from the program, they not only know the D.A.R.E. America course material inside and out but are as sensitive toward the children and their questions as a teacher who has honed the craft over many years.

Let’s face it, children can unknowingly, at times, be blunt with their thoughts and remarks.  “It’s tough sometimes because kids are going to have a lot of questions, and you don’t want them to discuss personal experiences that may make other people uncomfortable, or may bring light to a private matter,” said Avery, “so you just kind of say, oh that’s a great question, but, hey, maybe we should meet after class to discuss it.”

D.A.R.E America and the training committee are not only taught by officers but also people who have long been involved in the public school systems.  This aspect gives a unique dynamic to the extremely well rounded program, which has to keep up with today’s fast-paced culture as it grows to address problems as they emerge around the country.

D.A.R.E America was founded in 1983 by the Los Angeles police chief, along with the unified school district, in response to the harsh reality that drugs were most prevalent in the youth of L.A.  Since its founding, the program has received some criticism.  Yet, as Captain Tousignant of the Hudson Police Department explained, “How do you measure prevention?  You don’t know how many kids have been detoured from turning to drugs or experimenting with drugs.  How do you measure how many burglaries an officer stopped by driving through a neighborhood?”

The program, although created to help prevent drug use in minors, covers a broad spectrum of issues young people may face as they grow through adolescence:  suicide, peer pressure, bullying, decision making, communication, responding to pressure and, most importantly, when to ask for help.  Every 10 years the program is reassessed and revamped to accommodate the changing times.

Avery mentioned that in the ‘80s and ‘90s social media hadn’t existed.  Up until AOL instant messenger became a trend among youngsters, there was no such thing as cyber bullying.  However, nowadays, the biggest problem in the Hudson school system, as far as Captain Tousignant is concerned, is just that.  With the great advancements in technology, adolescents not only have the vast and somewhat harmful world of the internet at their finger tips but also thousands of different applications that easily can be abused and used in a malicious manner by children.