Council cancels drug program

August 18, 2005|By: Alicia Robinson

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program will go by the wayside in

Costa Mesa, and two police officers will be back on the streets.

The Costa Mesa City Council decided Tuesday to cancel funding for

the program, known as DARE, because the school district already has

drug education in its curriculum and studies have questioned the

effectiveness of the program.

The city has offered the program to all fifth graders since 1989.


The city spends $257,729 a year on salaries for two officers,

vehicles and supplies. Cutting the program will save only the $21,405

for supplies, because the police officers who run it will return to

patrolling the city.

"I don't see them [the programs] as effective," Mayor Allan

Mansoor said Wednesday. "I don't see them as solving the problems. A

lot of these have been in place for so long, and there hasn't been

any substantial change."

Getting rid of the drug education program will give teachers more

time to focus on core academic subjects, council members said.

How the schools will deal with the council's move is uncertain,

because Newport Beach continues to fund the drug education program

and both cities belong to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Superintendent Robert Barbot said he will talk with city officials

about how best to serve students, and he praised the police

department's overall efforts in the schools.

"They've been excellent in helping us with our needs in the school

district in the past," he said.

With the demise of Costa Mesa's program, six of Orange County's 34

cities will offer the drug program in their schools.

The Costa Mesa Police Department will consider having beat

officers spend part of their time at the city's elementary schools.

Two officers already are assigned as school resource officers at the

city's two high schools, with some duties at middle schools.

Prompted in part by criticism from a resident, the council also

will look into how the school resource officer program is working.

"Students look at the resource officers as someone that's looking

for something wrong and wants to punish them, not to help them,"

Mirna Burciaga told the council Tuesday.

Costa Mesa Police Chief John Hensley said Wednesday he supported

the decision to cut the drug education program but added that

officers will continue to be involved in local schools.

"I want the principals to all know there's a cop they can contact

if they have a question," he said.

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