D.A.R.E. has been an important juvenile program for the Norridge Police Department for over 20 years. D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a cooperative program which involves the entire village, police department, local school districts and parents. The program has been taught to 5th grade students at Giles, Leigh, and Pennoyer Schools for the past 20 years. The unique aspect of this program is the officer’s involvement in teaching the class.
The Village President and the Board of Trustees have been committed to the D.A.R.E. Program from inception. The Village has always felt it important to have officers regularly interacting with students. While other communities have had to cut back on juvenile programs, the Village of Norridge has never wavered in its support and continues to fully fund the program.
School Districts 79 (Pennoyer) and 80 (Giles and Leigh) are big supporters of the D.A.R.E. Program. Teachers are continually supporting the officers with guidance and encouragement, while the administrators have made sure scheduling, facility use and equipment are always available.
D.A.R.E. began in 1983 in Los Angeles as a way to educate and inform children on how to resist the pressure of drug use. The program has evolved over the years and has become an evidence based program to reduce drug use. Several weeks of training are required for police officers to teach the D.A.R.E. Program. Training includes curriculum on teaching techniques, elementary school operations, preparations for visual aids, officer-school relationships, narcotic recognition, communication skills, peer pressure resistance techniques and adolescent development and learning.
An important aspect of the program for the officers is their presence in the classroom and the opportunity to build lasting relationships with the children. These officers spend 10 to 12 weeks presenting structured lessons in decision making, teen perceptions, health facts, the purpose and effect of advertising, peer pressure resistance, and healthy alternatives. Over the weeks, the officers are able to present a less stereo-typical view of police officers and police work. Our goal is to provide not only important drug resistance skills, but to provide children with another resource that they can feel comfortable turning to during a crisis.
Norridge Police Officers work hard to build these relationships. They try hard to positively influence and help the students who have completed the program. They are always approachable; whether in their police cars, at the schools or even on the baseball fields at the park.
This approachability is shared by the entire Norridge Police Department. We always encourage all students and parents to approach us so that we may continue to be a resource in the community.