Maple Grove Police Get New Squad for DARE Program
DARE is back in the classroom this school year, but there are a couple of new bold additions you may spot outside of the classroom.
In fact, you may see them rolling, patrolling and riding with new wheels.
“We want to make them wholly unique, easily identifiable and something that when we’re driving when we’re not in the classroom any kid who lives in our city or in our community they can say that’s officer Smith, that’s officer Slawson, they’re awesome,” said Smith.
DARE officers Justin Smith and Laurel Slawson with the Maple Grove Police Department will be making their rounds around town with their custom cars for good reason. It’s part of a broader plan to stay identifiable and well-connected to the community.
Officer Smith said, “So the idea is that it’s not just a DARE car, and then when we’re not teaching classrooms it’s in the garage, we can patrol in it, write tickets, help out on accidents, help out people in the community.”
“Right now, we would drive a regular police car. They’re not going to know us from anybody else, where in this car, they’ll be able to tell the difference between me and officer Smith. His car will be a little bit different,” Officer Slawson added.
While riding in style is a bonus, the officers know the strong lasting connection starts in the classroom.
Lynn Maki and Randi Holtz teach fifth grade at Elm Creek Elementary and they love having the DARE program to help their students.
“It’s really been a big community builder and the kids get to know an officer on a personal level so that’s one of the reasons that we like it,” said Maki.
But the kids are not just learning to say no to drugs in the DARE curriculum.
“We talk about bullying, we talk about communication, we talk about listening, we talk about stress, how to handle stress, how to handle your anger, how to take that time out, take that breath,” Slawson said.
“Getting a more professional and seeing more of the consequences in knowing how to deal with peer pressure hits a little bit more home with the kids when you have somebody like Ms. Laurel Slawson,” said Holtz.