By Morgan Montalvo
Police officers and educators from across Texas, and several other states, are in San Antonio this week for the 2018 Texas DARE and School Safety Conference, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and is one of the nation’s longest-running substance abuse prevention programs. The program began in California in 1983 and soon spread across America.
Conference organizer Tim Barlow tells News Radio 1200 WOAI DARE does not focus solely on drug abuse “demand reduction.”
“Everybody thinks that we’re there just to sing and dance and tell kids ‘Don’t do drugs,’ ” Barlow says, “but we are a full resource. “We are there in case of an emergency. We are there in case of a disaster. We are going to be there for any type of crime involving a child.”
DARE constantly changes and addresses both man-made and environmental threats to campus and child safety, says Barlow, who also is the interim president of the Texas DARE Officers Association.
“Everybody thinks active shooter, but we could have a disaster like a tornado at a school; we could have the bleachers collapse, or we could have any number of issues that could come up in a school setting. We’re getting a lot into now things such as the opioid epidemic. They have a whole brand-new curriculum that just came out on it,” Barlow says.
The conference will offer a range of instructional seminars for peace officer continuing education credit, including new techniques for police dog handling, child abuse and neglect investigation, active shooter response.
And lessons learned from the most recent armed attacks on schools.
This year’s keynote speaker is retired Texas Ranger Ramiro Martinez who, earlier in his law enforcement career, was one of the two Austin police officers who subdued University of Texas Tower sniper Charles Whitman in 1966.