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D.A.R.E.: An abused school program

There is widespread concern about the failures and abuses of the D.A.R.E. program, including funding and misbehavior by law enforcement officers who teach the program. Certainly many of the people who engage in D.A.R.E. believe they are doing good for the community and for children, but the record of the organization is worrisome to parents.


DARE admits failure

ABC news reports that the DARE program has admitted that their anti-drug program in the nations school has failed. The report said that DARE ignored numerous reports that their anti-drug messages were falling on deaf ears. However, the President of DARE admitted today that the program needs to be changed dramatically because of the failure rate of it's graduates.

Here is the original site for the DARE story from

DARE failure mirrors anti-alcohol effort

To the Editor of The Washington Post:

In "Duplicitous Drug Dialogues" (Feb 26), Jonathan Zimmerman rightly points out that modern drug education programs for adolescents are little more than warmed-over 19th-century teetotaler sermons, phony as snake-oil. The precise term "dare" was used, then as now, to bolster the dignity of abstinence as a greater adventure than youthful experimentation: "Dare to do right," pledged kids in the Red Ribbon Reform clubs of Maine (circa 1875), "we the undersigned, for our own good, do hereby promise ... to abstain from buying, selling, or using Alcoholic Beverages." (NOTE 1.)

Instead of crack or meth horror stories, those kids heard scary tales of 'alcoholic human combustion' where drinkers who breathed on a lighted candle would burst into flames. Respected doctors and reformed drinkers swore it was all true. Preachers warned that the alcoholic fires burning the drunkard's body presaged the fires of Hell that would surely follow.

These were the original 'your brain on drugs' ads: your alcoholic brain as a flaming shish-kabob, your alcoholic soul impaled on Satan's flaming pitchfork. (NOTE 2.)

Any common pleasure drug, whether it's alcohol, marijuana, or caffeine, can be portrayed as a threat to humanity if its risks are reported without saying how much is used, by whom, and under what circumstances. If the actions of unbalanced, irresponsible, or malicious users are portrayed as typical of all users, and every remote risk is portrayed as a near-certainty, then any drug will sound horrendously dangerous. These tactics of the alcohol Prohibitionists have been borrowed and updated by today's drug warriors. It's prophylactic lying re-labeled as "education" and essentially required by abstinence-based federal guidelines for drug-ed funding.

But lying exacts a price. After 120 years of exaggeration about "John Barleycorn" and "the Demon Rum," the jaded American public could no longer believe alcohol to be a dangerous drug. We still soft-pedal its real and substantial risks -- "it's just alcohol." In fact, the risks of alcohol are on an equal footing with those of the common criminalized drugs - greater than some, less than others. Yet we now rightly perceive alcohol to be manageable (for most people) because we talk about it rationally. Rational discussion of the other drugs has yet to arrive in America. Before it does, we must dare to 'decriminalize' truthtelling.


Paul M. Bischke, Board Member Drug Policy Reform Group of Minnesota February 27, 2001

NOTE 1. Source: "The Temperance Reform and Its Great Reformers," by Daniels, W.H. (1878), New York: Nelson & Phillips Publishers. pp. 385, and "The Cyclopaedia of Temperance and Prohibition (1893). New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 57.

NOTE 2. Source: "The Great Illusion: An Informal History of Prohibition." by Herbert Asbury (1950). Garden City, NY: Doubleday. pp. 42-44.


The wrong message:

DARE is fundamentally dishonest: Let's look at just one DARE cop's published lies in just one news article.

excerpted from the article "Marijuana prescriptions discussed" Mount Shasta News, August 10, 2000

Deputy Dennis Melum said he has been in law enforcement since 1966 where the possession of marijuana was a felony.

"It was a powerful mind altering drug way back then and it still is today," he said. "In 1976, California decriminalized the use of marijuana which opened up a flood gate to our young people."

FACT: There was no significant increase in marijuana use in california or any other state that decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s. The total percentage of the California population using illicit drugs actually began to decline within two years of the passage of the Moscone Bill.

Melum, a DARE officer for many years, said, "In 1991 we had lots of programs and education of how dangerous it was which resulted in the lowest drug usage ever. Then a few years ago, because of pro-marijuana supporters, it was made legal in California. The government gave children a message it is not that bad, and boom, it took off."

FACT: Adolescent use of marijuana has declined since the passage of California's medical marijuana law, Prop 215, now Health and Safety code § 11362.5.

Melum said marijuana was harmful in the 1920s, 60s, and 70s. "Why is it not harmful today?" he said.

FACT: Cannabis has always had medical values and has always been one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to mankind," according to DEA Judge Francis Young, who studies the scientific data and issued his report in 1988. In 5,000 years of recorded use there is not a single death due to marijuana overdose.

In fact, he claims it is even more harmful today. In the early 1980s at Humboldt State they developed a hybrid strain of the cannabis plant which produces 1000 times more THC.

"The THC in today's street marijuana is from 16 to 26 percent," Melum said. "Ten years ago it was four percent and in the 1960s one percent. You would have had to smoke 104 marijuana joints 10 years ago to equal the potency of one today."

FACT: Melum must have flunked math, because what he said here is mathematically impossible. 1,000 times 1 percent is 1000 percent, so he claims that a cannabis plant produces ten times its weight in pure THC. Melum should go back to the fourth grade to study math. Furthermore, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) compiles annual statistics, and it reports that the average potency of marijuana in 1980 was about 3% and the potency of sinsemilla averaged 7.5%. The report in 1996 showed those figures were fundamentally unchanged.

"Proponents of marijuana say it is an okay drug and because our state made it a medicine it must be okay if you don't use too much of it," he said. "Growing, using, or selling it is against the law."

FACT: It is not against the law to grow or use marijuana with a doctor's written or oral recommendation in California. And this guy is a cop?!!?

"Just because California said some people can use it for medicine does not change the drug. It will always be a harmful drug. Some of the countries which originated the plant now have a death penalty for marijuana use because they see the devastation it has done."

FACT: The only reason marijuana is even illegal in many countries is because the USA threatens economic or military harm if they do not do so. Many European countries, such as Holland, Germany and Portugal, have decriminalized adult use of marijuana because they see that the harm done by the Drug War is worse than the harm done by cannabis, and that cannabis can actually reduce hard drug addiction.

Melum said marijuana is illegal because it is mind altering, addicting, and a gateway drug to other illegal drugs.

FACT: The National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, National Commission on Marihuana and Other Drugs and every other scientific study done on the subject show this is wrong. In fact, studies done in Europe show that cannabis use can help addicts recover. Every major increase in the use of hard drugs in the USA has been preceeded by a crackdown on marijuana, which shows that access to cannabis can help reduce drug abuse. Marijuana is illegal because powerful special interests misled the government and there is no scientific basis for the law: in fact, the ban runs contrary to the known facts and the recommendation of every independent taskforce that has studied the issue.

"I own a half way house and half of those there are for marijuana addiction," he said. "Once addicted, hygiene and personal conduct are compromised and the person joins the marijuana culture."

FACT: Marijuana is not physically addictive, although it may be habit forming. This guy is making money out of telling people these lies. He's a profiteer off the suffering of others.

"Marijuana is a culture and those who live in it believe in it," Melum said. "They believe it is okay and the way they are living is the way they want to live. To go to someone using it and say it is wrong just does not work." He said the addict has to be taken out of that "belief culture" in order to have a chance to see it for what it is and what it does to people.

FACT: Yes, there is a culture that holds cannabis in high esteem. There has been a culture and many religions based on cannabis dating back for at least 10,000 years. To try to destroy any cultural group is considered genocide in international law. Melum admits that DARE is part of a genocidal campaign attached to the drug war. In this case, he is telling the truth. In terms of what cannabis does to people, he is a profligate liar. Once you lie to children, all you teach them is not to believe you. DARE destroys families and should be eliminated.


Iowa: Norwalk DARE officer arrested

By AMANDA PIERRE, Register Staff Writer 02/15/2001

Norwalk's drug education police officer faces charges of assault and interfering with officers after an incident at a Windsor Heights bar, police said Wednesday. Windsor Heights police arrested Alex Betts, 24, after a purported altercation with a woman late Monday at Stix, 7211 Apple Valley Drive.

Betts is the second Norwalk drug education officer to face criminal charges in less than two years. Betts joined the Norwalk Police Department in December 1999. He succeeded Tom Nolan, a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer who was arrested in April 1999 on marijuana charges. Des Moines lawyer Maggi Moss, who represents Betts, declined to comment. Norwalk Police Chief Ed Kuhl refused to comment until an internal investigation is complete.

Norwalk schools Superintendent Tom Fish said Betts has been suspended. "I wish I had the right words to say to the kids again," Fish said. "Until the investigation is over, it's hard to know.

"Witnesses told police Betts assaulted Stephanie Schnack, 24, of Des Moines

after telling her she was sitting next to a man with "law enforcement problems." Schnack told Betts to leave, and was met with profanity, and then physical force, police reported. Schnack told police Betts grabbed her face with one hand, the back of her head with another, and forced her face down to the counter.

The police report said Betts was uncooperative during the arrest. According to the report, Betts told the arresting officer, "I know your chief. Who do you think you are? He'll never put up with you arresting a police officer." Betts was taken to the Polk County Jail, where he was released after two hours on his promise to appear at future court proceedings.

The fifth-grade class at Lakewood Elementary School is about halfway through the drug program Betts teaches. Stephanie Fumaro, who manages an apartment complex in Norwalk, knows Betts and was surprised to hear of his arrest. "I can't believe he has gotten into trouble," she said. "He is a good guy. He's really good with the kids."

Iowa DARE cop, arrested driving around with porno and stolen methamphetamine, LSD and cocaine, returned to classroom unpunished.

Des Moines Register, Friday, May 17, 1996, Page l-A.

'One-Time Incident'; Judge says probation, not prison, for (DARE Officer) Trimble

Prosecutors say the police officer fired by Ubandale after his drug arrest deserved harsher measures.

By Dan Eggen, Register Staff Writer

James Trimble, the fired Urbandale police officer who stole $20,000 worth of methamphetamine from his department, was spared prison Thursday for his felony drug conviction.

Judge Leo Oxberger sentenced Trimble to two years' probation, a $1,000 fine and 100 hours of community ser-vice.

"I'm convinced this is a one-time incident for you," the judge said. The sentence angered prosecutors, who along with pre-sentence investigators recommended up to 10 years in prison for the crime.

Trimble, 44, is required to spend his community-service time giving anti-drug speeches to students. He conducted such talks as a police officer in Urbandale schools.

Judge's Explanation

"I do not want you to think that I do not consider this a serious crime," Oxberger told Trimble. If this were a crime you committed in the course of your conduct as a police officer, would view it differently.

"I do not believe that any official should be above the law. On the other hand, I don't think that any officer or high-standing official should automatically be sentenced to prison.... You have rearranged your life and seem well on the way to rehabilitating your-self."

Jamie Bowers, an assistant Polk County attorney, pointed out that Trimble admitted taking drugs from an evidence locker at the Urbandale Police Department.

About 4 a.m. on New Year's Day, Trimble was arrested driving his mother's van in an inner-city Des Moines neighborhood. Police say they found about 7 ounces - $20,000 worth - of methamphetamine, in addition to marijuana, LSD and cocaine.

Videotapes and pictures

Authorities said numerous sexually explicit videotapes and pictures were found in the van, including photos of Trimble. He had a battery-operated sexual device inserted in his body when arrested, police said.

Riding in the van with Trimble was Lorrie Breiholz, 34, who was sentenced to probation and a deferred judgment in April for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The 18-year veteran headed Urbandale's DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and acted as liaison officer be-tween police and the suburb's schools. He was fired shortly after his arrest.

The case raised questions whether Trimble should be treated like other first-time drug offenders -- almost all of who receive probation - or as a law officer who shamed his profession. Bowers and state investigators argued the latter.

"We recommended that he go to prison based upon the impact he had on the community and on the credibility of law enforcement," Bowers said. "What the judge did depreciates the serious nature of the crime. ... When you're a police offi-cer, you're a police officer all the time, not just eight hours a day."

Trimble, sweat glistening on his face, said nothing during or after the sentencing in Polk County District Court.

"Jim Trimble lost his wife, his job, the respect of the community. He is a pariah, " said Trimble's attorney, Mark Pennington. "I think he's been punished enough."

Trimble's wife, who accused him of threatening to kill her and commit suicide shortly before his arrest, has filed for divorce. He is unemployed and lives in Urbandale with his mother.

He was charged with five drug crimes, but prosecutors agreed to let him plead guilty April 8 to one: possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine.

The crime is a Class C felony, a category that includes offenses such as vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter an third-degree sexual abuse. It is part of the stiffest category of state drug crimes.

The sentence was not part of the plea bargain.

No Criminal History

Pennington said it is important to note that Trimble had no prior criminal history and there was no evidence he bought or sold drugs.

Criminal history is key to determining sentencing: After Trimble was sentenced, Bowers said, three other people were sent to prison on the same charge -- but they all had prior records.

Pennington said Trimble's story will be valuable to schoolchildren.

"He has, in his own unique way, taught the kids the ultimate lesson: That drugs bring nothing but disaster," he said. "He's a living example of the destructive power of drugs. "

But David Hamlin, the Urbandale police chief, said Trimble may have difficulty meeting his community-service requirement.

"I do have some question about how many schools are really going to be open to him talking to kids," Hamlin said.

Mixed Feelings

Hamlin said he has mixed feelings about the sentence, considering the black eye Trimble gave the small department.

"He spent 18 years doing a lot of good work, but he created a lot of havoc in recent months," he said. "I'm thankful the judicial aspect is over, although I'm sure we'll be answering for it for some time."

Authorities considered charging Trimble with theft but decided it would have been "overkill," given the five drug charges against him at the time, Hamlin said.

District Judge Ray Fenton accepted Trimble's guilty plea and would normally handle the sentencing as well. But Fenton recused himself because he said he had known Trimble for many years.

Oxberger -- who fills in on the Polk County bench -- retired in 1994 as chief judge of the Iowa Court of Appeals.

[Image not included] James Trimble stands for his sentencing Thursday. The former police officer received two year's probation and a fine.



Beaver County Times/article dated 6/4/02

Harrisburg --An Embattled police program that fights youth drug and alcohol abuse has been ordered to return thousands of dollars to the state after an audit showed the agency had mismanaged funds.

The PA. DARE Officers Association, which is already reeling from a probe into embezzlement allegations, will have to return more than $204,468 in unspent money to the PA. Commission on Crime and Delinquency. ....

[Roy A.] Willoughby, a convicted felon, [the commission's former crime prevention manager] was forced to resign in May 2001 after his fourth drunken-driving arrest. Willoughby is now the subject of a state Grand Jury investigation into alleged misappropriation of funds. The commission said an audit shows lavish spending on conferences after Willoughby left, however. ....

Willoughby, 55, was hired in 1971, after serving time in state prison for a series of burglaries. But as early as 1977, Willoughby claimed on Civil Service forms that he had no criminal record. The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported in Sunday editions.

DARE, one of the nation's most publicized programs to fight youth drug and alcohol abuse, puts police officers in schools to teach children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The Officers Association provides training for the agency's officers and organizes conferences.

The U. S. Surgeon General and the National Academy of Sciences issued reports last year saying DARE was largely ineffective. A state commission study from 1999 showed ninth-graders who are program graduates are more likely to have tried marijuana than other ninth-graders.

PA.'s funding of the program topped $4.5 million this year in grants to schools and police depts. James Thomas, executive director of the commission that performed the audit, said his agency has stopped providing the officers association with grants and that the money is instead being distributed through the state Chiefs of Police Association. ....

Interesting is the fact that every police vehicle in the City of Los Angeles displays a "D.A.R.E" bumper sticker. Perhaps it is time to peer into what is going on within D.A.R.E. on an broader basis on their expenditures of finances.


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