Thursday, September 25, 2008
Jeffries D.A.R.E. Officer of Year
By SUE WATSON
Two deputies with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department were recognized by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson for recent accomplishments.
Deputy Tamara Jeffries was chosen as D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year for Mississippi at the state and national D.A.R.E. Convention in Gatlinburg, Tenn., in July. Jeffries is certified as a D.A.R.E. and a G.R.E.A.T. instructor and teaches both programs at the Byhalia Elementary and Middle School.
D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. G.R.E.A.T. stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training.
Deputy LaDaryl Odum, received G.R.E.A.T. certification on August 29 at Delta State University in Cleveland. Odum teaches the program at H.W. Byers Attendance Center in Mt. Pleasant.
Dickerson said the drug awareness and gang resistance education programs offered in all schools in Marshall County to fifth and sixth graders have an impact on the way youngsters respond to temptations to become involved in illegal drug use or gangs going into adulthood.
The D.A.R.E. program teaches children that illegal drugs impair the drug user both physically and mentally, he said. And nationwide, approximately 70 percent of the crime committed is either directly or indirectly related to use of illegal drugs. Students learn of these statistics and of the powerful addictive effects of two illegal drugs crystal methamphetamine and cocaine on first use, Dickerson said.
“At the fifth or sixth grade, if you don’t reach them, the chances of a student getting the message is less likely,” he said.
The Gang Resistance Program is designed to help children avoid the temptation to get involved with gangsters.
The program also teaches children that gang influence often results in exposure to violence, illegal drugs and property crimes, Dickerson said.
“Through our intelligence through the school system, if we get indicators of the presence of gang leaders, we get on the situation promptly,” Dickerson said. “We intervene before gangs form larger groups and bring destruction to other youth and to adults.
“Anyone with information regarding illegal drug and gang activities is asked to contact the sheriff’s department (662-252-1311) so we can take appropriate action.
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