Tribune staff reports

Two local Drug Abuse Resistance Education officers recently attended the inaugural D.A.R.E. Indiana Awards Breakfast at Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.

They were Jeff Walters, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and Tom Wright, an officer with the Brownstown Police Department. Walters teaches D.A.R.E. at Crothersville and Medora elementary schools and Lutheran Central School, while Wright teaches at Brownstown Elementary School.

They are among 400 certified, trained police officers in the state of Indiana teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum to 40,000 students yearly in 41 of the 92 counties.

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Three awards were handed out at this year’s breakfast.

The recipient of the 2016 Law Enforcement Executive of the Year award was Chief Robert Baker of the Kokomo Police Department. The department was the first law enforcement agency trained in Indiana 30 years ago and continuously has presented the program since.

“I am very honored to have been selected to receive this prestigious award,” Baker said. “The Kokomo Police Department has been involved with D.A.R.E. from the beginning. We strive to bring awareness and the tools needed to help the youth of our community to be the best not only for themselves and their families, but to help make their community a better place.”

As a supporter of D.A.R.E. for many years, Barnes and Thornburg LLP was the recipient of the 2016 D.A.R.E. Indiana Corporate Community Leader. Matt Morgan, current member of the D.A.R.E. Indiana board of directors, accepted the award on behalf of Barnes and Thornburg.

“We are honored to receive this award and committed through the D.A.R.E. program to helping young people throughout the state make good and sustainable decisions,” Morgan said.

Dan Dakich was named Distinguished Citizen of the Year. He is a former basketball player (1981 to 1985), assistant coach (1985 to 1997) and interim coach (2008) at Indiana University and coach at Bowling Green State University (1997 to 2007). He currently is a men’s college basketball analyst for ESPN and a radio talk show host.

Dakich also was the keynote speaker, talking about his days at Indiana University and sharing some humorous insight into coach Bob Knight. He spoke on the importance of the program and the positive outcomes it had for his family, as his children have learned valuable lessons as graduates of the program.

D.A.R.E. Indiana receives no state or federal funds and relies on the continued support of individuals, businesses, corporations and the sale of D.A.R.E. license plates.

Locally, the program operated through the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department uses no tax dollars or government funding but relies on individuals, businesses and corporations to pay for the workbooks and T-shirts the fifth-graders receive. The program also awards scholarships to a senior from Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Trinity Lutheran high schools.

The Seymour Police Department presents D.A.R.E. in the schools that feed into Seymour High School.

At a glance

For information on the local D.A.R.E. program or to make a donation or a presentation, contact Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Detective Bob Lucas at 812-358-2141.