Superintendent Bill McKinnon (File photo - Elisha Dacey)
Superintendent Bill McKinnon (File photo - Elisha Dacey)

Anti-drug program axed by RCMP

by - Story: 51022

A drug-prevention program that was cut by the Kelowna RCMP has the detachment's superintendent wondering if the program was all that effective in the first place.

Superintendent Bill McKinnon says it was a tough decision to kill the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program run by the Kelowna RCMP, but adds he wasn't sure the program was broad enough in scope to be very effective.

"A concern of mine has always been 'Yes, we teach it in Grade 5 but we're not able to reinforce it in Grade 8 and Grade 11,'" says McKinnon. "If you don't reinforce the message, I'm not so sure how effective it really, really is."

McKinnon says the reason for the program's demise is a question of resources.

"We're under considerable pressure in the detachment with the resource base that we have," says McKinnon. "Given the economics of today and the fact that the calls for service certainly aren't really slowing down, as well as we've had a number of very serious offenses ... we've had to (borrow) people from other units.

"It's a nice to have program, it's not a have-to-have program."

School District 23 board chairperson Rolli Cacchioni says the board is disappointed the program is ending, but understands the financial pressure the detachment is under.

Cacchioni says the board is pursuing other options, including implementing an anti-drug program of their own in the spring.

McKinnon says one officer was permanently allocated to teaching the program, which was run in 65 classrooms in School District 23. The funding for the program will be moved into the major crimes unit, says McKinnon.

The D.A.R.E program will end in Kelowna on January 1, but that doesn't mean the detachment won't consider it or alternatives in the future.

"We have the Blast-Off program that's ready to go, involving the Kelowna Rockets. The detachment is also looking into a program happening in Surrey."

McKinnon says the resources for that program may be beyond the detachment.

"Yes, we may be able to save some kids from ever getting involved in drugs and that's certainly a good thing, but in the same breath I have people that are questioning 'Where are your traffic units?' because we save lives when we have members out on the roads, too. So, it's all about priorities."

The cut doesn't affect D.A.R.E programs running elsewhere in the Valley, as they are funded separately.

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