Community Policing and D.A.R.E.«
Over the past decade, two new initiatives in the law enforcement field--D.A.R.E.«
and community policing--have gained momentum within police departments.
A closer look at these two creative approaches reveals their commonalities
and potential for integration.
David L. Carter, Ph.D.
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
Community policing represents a fundamental shift in the philosophy
of policing. Its essence is full-service law enforcement which focuses
on addressing citizen concerns and on providing high quality services.
The concept draws from customer service-oriented management strategies
like Total Quality Management (TQM) and on law enforcement research.
By reallocating patrol officer■s time, it makes better use of
personnel. In addition, the department becomes closer to the community
and establishes a dialogue with citizens. This has a number of positive
Drug Abuse Resistance Education--D.A.R.E.«
providing the public with a more accurate gauge of the effectiveness of
officers and the department as a whole
encouraging citizens to define and prioritize their community■s needs
increased public satisfaction and improved police-community relations
the enrichment of police officers■ responsibilities to include new
roles as a community organizer, facilitator, educator, and referral source
Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a comprehensive preventive education
program designed to stop drug use by educating children about the dangers
of drug abuse and the influence of peer pressure. Its curriculum emphasizes
self-esteem, taking responsibility for personal behavior, and making responsible
The D.A.R.E.« curriculum was specifically written by educators for
specially trained uniformed police officers to present to school children.
Over time, the training has expanded to include education on avoiding violence
and gang involvement. In addition, a range of curriculums have been developed:
Kindergarten--Fourth Grade Visitation Program, Fifth/Sixth Grade Program,
Middle School Program, High School Program, D.A.R.E.« Plus (Playing
and Learning Under Supervision), and a Parenting Component.
D.A.R.E.« relies on formal socialization to influence the development
of children■s attitudes and beliefs. Positive exposure to a police
officer over time can help students develop good citizenship skills. The
extent of influence will depend on the child■s previous socialization;
the quality of the D.A.R.E.« instruction; and the follow-up the child
receives from parents, friends, teachers or other police officers.
D.A.R.E.« and Community Policing
In philosophy and practice, D.A.R.E.« complements the tenets of
a community-based approach to policing. The D.A.R.E.« program fosters
the same kind of close and prolonged contact with the community that is
fundamental to community policing. The D.A.R.E.« officer is removed
from the patrol car and interacts closely with school administrators, teachers,
parents, community members, and young people over an extended period of
time. A rapport is developed which fosters communication and problem solving
which extends beyond the formal curriculum.
A number of benefits can be seen for community policing when a D.A.R.E.«
program is implemented. These include:
Building on ideas of partnership, open communication, reciprocal education,
and mutual respect, community policing and programs like D.A.R.E.«
can make significant progress in increasing the quality of life in our
Humanizing the police. Young people begin to relate to officers as people,
not just as a uniform or institution.
Permitting students to see police officers in a helping role, not just
an enforcement role.
Opening lines of communication between youth and the police.
Opening lines of communication between the school district and the police.
This can encourage discussion of a wide range of issues, such as violence
in the schools, drug abuse, and other mutual concerns.
Providing feedback to the police department to allow it to better understand
the fears and concerns of youth. The police may then develop problem-solving
efforts beyond the drug issue.
Adults within the community, including parents, teachers, school staff,
administrators and board members may begin to view the police in a new
Officers perspectives on public school life and community concerns may
D.A.R.E.« training introduces officers to a measure which gauges success
by community acceptance and support rather than numbers of crimes and arrests.
D.A.R.E.« officers may become a resource for the department in developing
D.A.R.E.« officers can provide important information on a range of
law enforcement issues beyond the drug problem to young people in question
and answer sessions.
D.A.R.E.« may stimulate interest in other police activities, such as
the Police Explorers or the Police Athletic League, and in other youth-oriented
D.A.R.E.« can reduce peer pressure, help youths to balance their values,
and encourage many forms of responsible behavior.