Officers from Kentucky, other states come here for D.A.R.E. training

Posted September 25, 2019 at 12:34 pm


The Kentucky State Police have been doing a training program for many years now that not only provides a service to law enforcement within the state, but to agencies out of state as well.

Trooper Island Director and Kentucky State Police Master Trooper Jonathan Biven has been running officers through the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program for several years and each year around 14-16 officers graduate as D.A.R.E. instructors.

This allows those officers to return to their community with all the knowledge needed to spread to children about the dangers of drug, alcohol, tobacco use and other issues that can arise within a school social setting.

“We have 16 officers right now and of those 16 we have two from the state of Georgia and one from the state of Indiana,” Biven said. “Everyone else is all the way from Pikeville to Mayfield.”

Biven said the training is two weeks long and is conducted on Trooper Island.

“Basically we are teaching police officers how to be D.A.R.E. Officers,” Biven said “More importantly, we are teaching them how to be a school teacher. It’s a highly intense training and the days last anywhere from 13 to 14 hours. The big thing that we do at the end is we bring them into the school because we want to be sure we are putting out the best product.”

For two weeks, the officers are completely busy every single day. Biven said they start at 8 a.m. and sometimes don’t quit until 10 p.m. that same night.

“Your looking at a 14 hour day,” Biven said. “The training is intense. I have literally heard police officers leave our training and say D.A.R.E. has by far been the hardest. It’s so much work and it’s so mental. Our training team demands perfection.”

Biven said the program the KSP has must be a good one because of all the out of state attention it gets.

“We have them coming to us. Our team consists of police officers from all over the state as well,” Biven said. “It’s a fun day and truly one of those days we look forward to doing during the year.”

Biven said there are a variety of officers who come through the program including state troopers, city officers as well as sheriff’s deputies.

“The good thing is no one here is a sergeant, no one here is a colonel … everybody here is a D.A.R.E. officer,” Biven said. “You truly leave your rank behind. I always like to say you leave Rambo in the car because here is where you have to be a kid. A lot of these officers, when they go back into their community, they get made fun of. They don’t really get made fun of, but yet they do. When they get back they kind of have to be the kindergarten cop and that’s not something everyone can do.”

Biven said usually they have to de-select one or two officers from the program, but he said this year everyone will graduate.

“I’m proud to say, this year, everybody has done what they needed to do and at graduation we will graduate 16 new D.A.R.E. officers and 13 of which will be here in the state,” Biven said. “With all the drugs in our communities and other social issues that we have, this is just another tool that police officers and schools can use to combat that.”

With the change in the scene of drugs in all communities, the message D.A.R.E. officers hasn’t changed.

“We still talk about alcohol and tobacco and we get into opioid now,” Biven said. “America is getting into the vaping issues now. Our main goal is making sure these kids know right from wrong. Making wise choices and dealing with things like bullying. Bullying is still bad in our school systems, so this is just another tool to give the kids so they know what it looks like. We have a lesson just on stress. We have a lesson just on responding to resistances … how to be confident. You put all those things together and someone offers them some kind of drug, they are going to know that’s bad for them and they are going to know how to tell someone they don’t want to do it.”

Every year, Biven said they usually keep a class of around 18 officers.

“Unfortunately we had two to drop out for unknown reasons, but 18 is about all we can handle at one time,” Biven said. “We are going to add a few more to our training staff, so we should be able to open it up to around 22. Right now six is the max per mentor. That way we are making sure it’s one on one. We want to make sure the class size is small so everyone gets the amount of time that they need.”

For law enforcement agencies, Biven said it’s one of the cheapest trainings officers can have.

“It’s right here in their back yard,” Biven said. “The cost is $350 dollars per person for two weeks. It is a little more expensive for out of state. For the officers in Georgia, it’s $1,000 per officer.”

Biven said he is the state coordinator for Kentucky and Sergeant Kevin Grimes, with the Nicholasville Police Department, is the training facilitator for the D.A.R.E. program.

“He is my right and left hand man,” Biven said. “He is truly an asset to the Kentucky D.A.R.E. Association and to this training team.”

Thursday of last week, the officers in the D.A.R.E. program traveled to Clinton County Middle School and the Early Childhood Center and spent some time with students in Clinton County.

“We are passionate about it and we love what we do,” Biven said. “Not everyone is able to be a police officer … not every police officer is able to be a D.A.R.E. officer.