The Perrysburg Police Division is planning to reduce the number of officers it assigns to teach Drug Abuse Resistance Education in the schools, known as DARE, which has some area educators and students worried about the future of the program.
Police Chief Richard Gilts said he decided to reassign Officer Don Humphrey to road patrol full-time. Officer Humphrey had been splitting his time between the road patrol and DARE. The change will be in effect next school year.
Officer Jeff Graham will remain as the full-time DARE teacher. He has been assigned to the program for several years, and will now handle all the teaching.
"Cutting back on the program is a real loss for the students," said Barbara Jenks, principal of St. Rose Elementary School. "We will lose some of the additional programs the officers were doing in the building."
Perrysburg police teach the DARE program in fifth-grade classrooms at St. Rose and the four elementary schools in Perrysburg's public school system. During the 12-week program, each class gets a weekly visit from their assigned officer.
"The cutback is in personnel, not in our commitment to the curriculum," Chief Gilts said. "The main curriculum will continue as it always has."
In addition to the basic fifth-grade curriculum, the two Perrysburg officers had been doing drug education activities with other grade levels throughout the school year. Chief Gilts said these activities will likely be reduced.
Chief Gilts said he reassigned Officer Humphrey because he needs more officers on road patrol. He said the change will allow the police division to save nearly $11,000 annually on overtime paid to officers filling in patrol shifts.
"We're gaining an advantage in our road patrol, which benefits the entire community," Chief Gilts said.
Since students and local residents learned of the reassignment at recent DARE graduation ceremonies, Chief Gilts said he has received letters from students and educators objecting to the change.
Mrs. Jenks said Officer Humphrey had a close relationship with many students, so they are sad to see him go.
"The children really respected him," she said.