The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program, founded in 1983 by former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates, has evolved into an international education program that seeks to prevent the use of controlled dangerous substances, membership in gangs and violent behavior. Starting in 5th grade, elementary students are educated about acting in their own best interest when facing high-risk, low-gain choices and resisting peer pressure and other influences when making personal choices regarding tobacco smoking and advertising, drug abuse, use of inhalants, alcohol consumption and health and peer pressure in social networks.
The D.A.R.E. Program enables students to interact with police officers or sheriffs in a controlled, safe, classroom environment. This helps students and officers meet and understand each other in a friendly manner, rather than meeting when a student commits a crime, or when officers must intervene in domestic disputes and severe family problems. D.A.R.E. is also an important tertiary crime and violence prevention education program.
D.A.R.E. curriculum instructors are local police officers who must undergo 80 hours of specialized training in areas including child development, classroom management, teaching techniques and communication skills. Police officers are invited by the local school districts to speak to and work with students. Different programs are presented to different age groups. Working with classroom teachers, the officers lead students through workbooks and conduct interactive discussions.
The Park Police Division has partnered with the Prince George's County School system since 1995 and has seven certified D.A.R.E. officers participating in the program. Currently, Park Police offer D.A.R.E. programs in Prince George's County at the following schools: