Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced that in a recent agreement with Richland County School District Two Superintendent, Dr. Debbie Hamm, Richland County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officers will expand teaching D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to students in all 23 elementary schools; this is up from 11 last year at this time. The Sheriff’s Department has over 85 deputies stationed at over 60 schools to include high schools, alternative schools, middle schools, and elementary schools in School District One, Two, and Lexington-Richland Five.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that this is a major step in continuing our partnership with School District Two, and paves the way to connect and bond with more students than ever before. The Sheriff added that this partnership continues to foster education as our deputies teach a curriculum based on deterring our children from drugs, alcohol, gangs, and how to prevent, respond, and get help for bullying. The Sheriff stated that far too many of our children suffer from the hands of bullies and whether it’s physical abuse or from the use of social media, cyber-attacks are just as harmful and hurtful to these young minds.
The Sheriff stated that he wants the students to feel comfortable with the deputies, and for our deputies to get to know the students and to know that we care about them, their wellbeing, and that we are there to assist them. The Sheriff added that safety and education of our children is first and foremost; our deputies will bond with the students as educators, coaches, and as first responders in the event of an emergency.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department has entered into a voluntary mutually agreed resolution with the Department of Justice’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which will focus on the Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officers. The Sheriff stated that the Sheriff’s Department will establish a community work group within this agreement for round table discussions that will include, School Resource Officer, Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator, parents, students, faith based organizations, defense attorney, juvenile court judge, juvenile public defender, advocate representing persons with disabilities, U.S. Attorney’s Office, assigned representatives from School District One, Two, Lexington-Richland Five, and Solicitor’s Office.
This initiative will create a better understanding of the responsibilities of our School Resource Officers as it pertains to their duties within the school. In addition, it will help to build a better relationship between administrators, faculty, staff, students, and law enforcement in general. The Sheriff stated that school administrators will play a bigger role when it comes to administrative infractions by the students. The Sheriff stated that when we all work together, everyone wins and our students are much better for it.
After State funding for D.A.R.E. was discontinued in 2003, the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy no longer had the ability to teach and certify officers in the D.A.R.E. program. Starved of its funding, the program seemed destined to end. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, however, refused to let the program die in South Carolina and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department became the state training center for D.A.R.E.
The D.A.R.E. Training Center acts as the liaison between the State D.A.R.E. Officers and D.A.R.E. America. The job of the training center is to disseminate national updates, concerns, and to recommend qualified D.A.R.E. Officers to be trained as Mentors. The Training Center also maintains officer certification records and agencies' statistical records to assure correct data collection. It is also the mission of the Training Center to train law enforcement officers in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Curriculum while adhering to the guidelines and upholding the integrity standards set by D.A.R.E. America Training will also involve certifying officers in South Carolina's School Resource Officer Program course while following the guidelines set forth by law. The Training Center reports all of its data to the Executive Director, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. The two week DARE Officer Training (D.O.T.) will be delivered as often as needed based on statewide demand.
Just in the last year August 2015 to June 2016, Richland County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officers have taught over 3,137 classes impacting over 44,988 students; to include 249 home visits, and successfully resolved over 8041 conflicts.
October 03, 2016
Two Notch Road
Columbia, South Carolina 29223
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