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Press Release

HCSO Hosts 2nd DARE Program Graduation of 2023 at CSLA


HCSO Hosts 2nd DARE Program Graduation of 2023 at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA)

Hamilton County, TN – Earlier this afternoon, Sheriff Austin Garrett and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Deputy Unit, in conjunction with the administration of the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA), hosted the second DARE graduation ceremony of 2023. Also joining Sheriff Austin Garrett as a ceremonial guest speaker in the graduation was Hamilton County Department of Education Chief Operations Officer Dr. Robert Sharpe.

Today’s ceremony signifies the successful culmination of the HCSO’s second DARE Program to be hosted in our public school system in over two decades and reinforces our office’s commitment to the safety of our community’s children. Approximately 86 students graduated from the program.

DARE was originally founded in 1983 and has proven so successful that it has been implemented in thousands of schools throughout the United States and many other countries. It is a law enforcement led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. The modern national DARE Program teaches millions of children the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs and gangs, as well as lead lives free from substance abuse and violence. There is also a mental health component incorporated into the program.

“As part of my vision as Sheriff, I am pleased to see DARE re-instituted in our public schools. My administration understands the value of this safety program and the importance it plays in not only reducing drug addiction in children, but the many other important lessons and values it teaches our young people. With the unprecedented number of overdose deaths we are seeing across our state and our nation, along with the increase in juvenile violence, there could not be a more important time to reinstitute the DARE Program in our local schools. We must give our young people the tools they need to educate themselves about the dangers of illegal and prescription drug abuse and avoiding peer pressure by promoting respectful conduct, civility, and behavior,” stated Sheriff Austin Garrett.

Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts was one of two schools selected last year in September as the pilot locations for the program due to the fact their assigned School Resource Deputies’ proactively requested to undergo the extensive training required to become certified DARE Instructors.

In order to be a DARE Instructor, potential candidates are vetted by DARE mentors responsible for training new law enforcement personnel. The candidate must also be a POST certified, uniformed law enforcement officer with at two or more years of service and must successfully complete a rigorous 80-hour training course conducted by mentors with a significant number of years of classroom experience, as well as university-level educators from colleges of education. This coursework does not include the many additional hours of study and after-hours work required to test for the certification.

“I am proud of the efforts and initiative shown by School Resource Deputies’ Joseph Dangler and Rodney Brown to obtain their instructors certification and to get this important public safety program operational. As we get more instructors certified and trained to teach DARE, we will continue to expand the program in the coming months and years across our county,” stated Sheriff Austin Garrett.

Please join with Sheriff Austin Garrett and the men and women of the HCSO as we congratulate the students at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts who successfully completed this program and graduated this morning.

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Phone: (423) 209-7000