"There Will Be a DARE Officer"

By Kate Gaier
4:30 pm September 12, 2006

It's the second year OFC Penny Hembree is serving as the DARE Officer at Thomasville City Schools. The program is meant to educate children about the dangers of using drugs, but it lies in limbo because of a lack of funding.

"It is real important to the children. I don't want to have two years of it and then have it stop, because that's what happened before. There was no funding for it and that's why we didn't have it for several years," remarked Hembree.

After review, the County Board of Commissioners voted to fund $32,000 of the officer's salary.

While the superintendent and the police chief are pleased with the money, they say it's not the full 75 percent they asked for.

Sabrina Everett, the Superintendent of Thomasville City Schools, said, "I'm a little bit disappointed that the amount granted the 32 plus is actually only 68.9 percent of our original request."

Chief David Huckstep added, "I can't have a DARE officer 68.9 percent of the time. It's 100 percent or nothing at all. We were already struggling with funding on how we were going to meet the other 25 percent."

It's back to the drawing board for the city, but the chief says this setback will not stop the school system from having a DARE officer this year. The funding is from fines that a judge has ordered be paid in drug cases. By law it is to be used for educational and rehab programs such as DARE.