Thursday, August 31, 2006
D.A.R.E. officers complete training
Twenty-six law officers, including one from Marshall County, completed D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) certification training at Byhalia Elementary School Thursday.
The 80-plus hour training course prepares officers to serve grades K-12 in schools, according to Sheri Hall, state D.A.R.E. training coordinator. Deputy Cathy Elliott, who serves as school resource officer at Potts Camp High School and Galena and Mary Reid schools, took the course this year. Elliott, along with deputies Shane Goode (H.W. Byers School) and Tamara Jeffries (Byhalia Middle and High School), provide law enforcement support in the county school district and at Marshall Academy. Lt. John Norman with Holly Springs Police Department serves as D.A.R.E. officer for the Holly Springs School District and Holy Family School.
The program teaches youngsters to resist drug use and violence, as well as teaching personal safety.
D.A.R.E. officers chose Byhalia Elementary and Middle School principal Kerry Reid and assistant principal Sonya Cross as educators of the year for 2006.
Local governments provide training and pay the salaries of their in-school officers. Goode, Jeffries and Elliott are paid out of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Departmental budget.
Don Randolph, superintendent of the county schools, called his district a training ground for D.A.R.E. since this is the third year the D.A.R.E. association has come to Byhalia Elementary to complete in-school training required for certification.
“We’re glad we’re a training ground,” Randolph told the 26 graduates and eight training officers. “We hope your people in your community support you like our sheriff does here.”
Randolph referred to the D.A.R.E. program as “a divine walk in the community.”
Law officers from as far away as Connecticut, Virginia, Missouri and Rhode Island enrolled in this class. Instruction took place in Tunica before officers came to Byhalia to finish their training in a classroom setting.
Deputy Elliott has served the last two years as school resource officer at Potts Camp, Galena and Mary Reid schools, starting out part-time.
She graduated from the Mississippi Police Academy at Moorhead in 2004 and was D.A.R.E. certified last week. Elliott received advanced school resource officer certification in 2005.
Elliott began working in law enforcement under Sheriff Ernest Cunningham in 1994-95 as a part-time deputy helping juvenile officer Patricia Selman, now interim Police Chief in Holly Springs.
“I moved back here in 1991 and there were not a lot of job opportunities in the area then,” Elliott said. “Selman, a friend of mine, was juvenile officer at the time and she encouraged me. She said it was such a rewarding type of job. That is very true.
“Dealing with children, they respect me. It’s just so rewarding when you can touch the life of a child in a positive manner. From talking with the teachers and principals, they say having a school resource officer in school helps keep down fights and students behave better.
“It’s a wonderful job, a very rewarding job, and every now and then you can see you made a difference in the life of a child. That makes it worth getting up every morning and doing what we do.
“There are challenges as well, because you do have those children you have to arrest from time to time and have to cuff them and put them in the back seat of the patrol car. But that’s part of the job.”
Elliott grew up in Marshall County, graduated from Holly Springs High School, and in 1977 earned a bachelor’s in public administration from Ole Miss.
Before moving back to Marshall County, Elliott worked in Memphis and Dallas as a commercial lines underwriter for several insurance companies.
She is the daughter of the late Magnolia and Lamon Elliott Jr. who lived a few miles outside Holly Springs on Old Highway 7 South.
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