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Drug education officer leaves beat

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jim Grant/Tahoe TribuneAl Tahoe Elementary school student Hannah Taylor shares a hug with South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Rebecca Inman at the DARE graduation ceremony last Friday.
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South Lake Tahoe police officer Rebecca Inman experienced a lot of joy being the full-time administrator for the DARE program.

She still keeps in touch with past program graduates, even if some of the graduates are now in high school and have to wait until their friends leave to give Inman a hug.

After nearly a decade of involvement, Inman will leave her post of program coordinator this year.

The move will allow Inman to further her career in law enforcement as well as create an opportunity for other officers to become involved in DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

“It was time for Rebecca to come back into patrol and to become a field training officer,” said Cmdr. Don Muren. “We don’t usually have people in specialized areas for more than four or five years.”

Additionally, the move will save funds since grant money can be used and the police department will have a full-time officer back on the street, Muren said.

Eight years ago Inman served as the backup DARE officer but the program was canceled two years after she joined. She wrote a grant proposal to get it back and has been the program officer ever since.

Inman said people have a common misconception of the program by thinking it deals specifically with youth drug use.

“When they see in the paper kids taking drugs they think the program is a failure,” Inman said.

Along with drug use, the program tackles issues such as self-esteem, violence and choosing friends.

A 20-lesson program is administered to fifth-graders within the city’s boundary. Inman met with students every week during school time to work on the lessons. This year 380 fifth-graders graduated from the program.

Various cities across the nation have discontinued the DARE program citing budget concerns or the ineffectiveness of an old program. Inman said that anybody with doubts about DARE should come down to the police station and read the constantly updated curriculum.

Inman will remain the Explorer advisor and teach at schools and the recreation center. It is undecided who will fill Inman’s shoes at DARE but it will likely be a retired or part-time officer, Muren said.

Bob Comlossy, a fifth-grade teacher at Meyers Elementary School, said the school has a different DARE officer from Inman but added the program is beneficial to students.

“There definitely is an effect with having a peace officer delivering the lesson rather than a teacher,” he said. “It certainly promotes an awareness among the kids about the alternatives.”


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