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March 07 01:55 PM

Drug proceeds buy new DARE vehicle

Students at W.T. Lewis Elementary School found out what the Bossier Sheriff’s Office does with some of the money and assets they seize from drug dealers and users: They buy a new DARE car for the instructor’s use.

The DARE program, which has been around since 1989, teaches fifth-graders about the dangers of illicit drugs and alcohol. Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington unveiled the new vehicle at the school last Thursday, Feb. 27.

“We’re so proud to sponsor the DARE program,” the sheriff said. About 3,800 students participate in the class each year.

“Today, we’re excited about unveiling our new 2014 Camaro,” which DARE instructor Deputy Marie Hawn will be driving to and from her assignments at the school.

Whittington said that the car was purchased with seized drug money and pointed to a place at the rear of the vehicle stating that. “Some of it was actually cash that was seized, and some of it was other items that were seized and sold, and then the proceeds from that were used to purchase this car. It’s a good use of the drug dealer’s money, in my view,” he said.

“Everybody likes a cool car, us older folks and certainly the younger folks, and it’s just kind of an attention-getter, an eye-catcher and kind of brings a little excitement to the program.”

How do the children feel about DARE?

“DARE is a very good program which teaches kids to stay away from drugs and how to communicate and handle stress,” said 10- year-old Ellie Smith.

What was the most surprising thing she learned in her class? “I learned the harmful things that tobacco can do and that alcohol can do, and I’m probably never going to do that,” she said.

What impact does DARE have on the students? “It prepares them to go into middle school because of the different things that we talk about, not only alcohol and tobacco; we talk about stress and communication skills and … making responsible choices. It’s a class that you want them to always remember,” said Deputy Hawn.

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