Gibson County DARE expands to new school, adds new vehicle

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GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — In just two days, students in the Bradford Special School District head back to class. And with the new school year comes an expansion of an already influential drug fighting program. The DARE program in Gibson County has been around for many years, but this year marks a new effort to educate students. The sheriff’s office has added a new car, a new school and a new mission their deputies said has them ready to make a difference. “Just being in the hallway and being visible,” DARE officer Dwayne Clark said. “Letting the kids know that we are easy to talk to and approachable.” It’s a new step forward for the program. “It doesn’t teach them about drugs,” DARE officer Maigon Shanklin said. “It teaches them more about making good decisions when approached with drugs.” DARE’s presence can be seen in almost every Gibson County school, and this year there’s one more on that list, Bradford Elementary. “I hope that the kids will form relationships with these officers,” Bradford Elementary School Principal Kelly Knott said. “So they will be able to come to them as they see them throughout the year.” Deputies Shanklin and Clark will work with Bradford’s fifth graders, an age they say is influential. “It’s that time they grow up just a little bit,” Shanklin said. “They’re going to have stuff brought to their attention that they might think, ‘how do I handle that?'” With drugs a major problem across West Tennessee, parents say that interaction with law enforcement is priceless. “I did this program while I was in school,” parent Dana Mead said. “I think it’s a very great way to have positive relationships.” Whether they’re educating students on drugs or helping them through a crisis, Shanklin and Clark say as they walk the halls they’re making friends for life. “I really can’t go anywhere in this county without a child coming up to me that I taught in the year prior,” Clark said. The Gibson County DARE program is funding entirely by donations from the community. The county’s new DARE vehicle was purchased using money from drug seizures and fines. If you’d like to learn more about the program or meet the officers, Bradford Elementary is holding an open house starting at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.

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