D.A.R.E program likely to be cut from Virginia Beach schools

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 25, 2015

Virginia Beach, Va. - D.A.R.E., a popular drug prevention program, is on the chopping block in Virginia Beach.

The nationwide program has been in Virginia Beach schools for years.  It's designed to prevent drug abuse and violence.

In Virginia Beach, the program is run by the sheriff's office and is for students in the fourth grade.

Sheriff Ken Stolle says there are two reasons it will likely get cut, the main reason being money.

"It's a tough decision.  I think the D.A.R.E. program is supported by the parents and the schools and the kids and the deputies, so it's not something I wanted to do, but in times of shortages of funds, you've got to make tough decisions," Stolle said.

D.A.R.E. costs the sheriff's office about $780,000 a year.  They're currently short-staffed in the jail and some of the department's other expenses are going up.

Sheriff Stolle says the eleven people who work full-time with D.A.R.E would be moved into other positions within the sheriff's office.

Along with the money, Sheriff Stolle also says there's just not enough evidence proving it works.

"If you watch the D.A.R.E program, you can't help but to believe it has a positive impact on the kids.  The kids love it and the D.A.R.E. officers love it, but the statistical analysis doesn't support that it has any impact on preventing crime or preventing these kids from going into crime," said Stolle.

There have been studies showing it's ineffective, though according to a regional director for D.A.R.E, those studies were done prior to a change in the curriculum a few years ago.  He says there is a new study in the works based on the current program.

But again, in Virginia Beach, the main issue is money.

It's not officially cut yet, though.  The budget still needs to be finalized.

Virginia Beach has one of the few D.A.R.E. programs still operating in our area.

The only other active D.A.R.E. programs are run by the Gloucester County Sheriff's Office and the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office.