Exeter police chief aims to become local D.A.R.E. officer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Struble to attend 2-week training in Oklahoma city in January

The Exeter School District is formulating plans to fill the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer position, which has been vacant since late August.

Morgan Struble, Exeter police chief, said he is going to attend a D.A.R.E. officer training seminar from Jan. 18-30 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Oklahoma City.

"At the end of the two weeks, I will have a certificate and the knowledge and skills to be able to teach a successful and full D.A.R.E. program from start to finish," Struble said. "The Exeter School usually has the D.A.R.E. program in the spring every year, and they had it last year, and my intention is to be able to have the certification finished by spring, so they don't miss a beat."

Deputy Larry Stockton, who was Barry County's D.A.R.E. officer, retired Aug. 29 after working 18 years for the Barry County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Mick Epperly said the office has not appointed another D.A.R.E. officer.

Struble said his intention is not to be the new county's D.A.R.E. officer.

"I am just doing this for Exeter," he said. "It will be secondary to my already existing duties."

Struble said he has never taught D.A.R.E., but he has seen it being taught, and he went through D.A.R.E. as a student.

"I think if you can catch the kids at an early age, then maybe you won't have the chance of dealing with them as adults," he said.

After the Missouri and Oklahoma D.A.R.E. coordinators gave him permission to attend the training, the Exeter Board of Education approved his request to become the district's D.A.R.E. officer at the Oct. 15 meeting.

"D.A.R.E. will not train an officer who has not been agreed to be used by a school," he said. "D.A.R.E. doesn't want to just train a bunch of officers who will not utilize the training and just try to boost their resumes."

Even though the training is free, Struble said he requires funds for fuel, lodging and food. The Exeter Board of Education has agreed to pick up the expenses that the city cannot cover.

"The initial expenses will come out of our city police department training fund, which is money allotted specifically for my training," he said.

Struble said he will come home on the weekends, and the Barry County Sheriff's Office will handle calls of service while he is at the training.

D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, according to the program's website. It is taught in all 50 states and 49 countries.

"D.A.R.E. is a police officer-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 website said.

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