SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office D.A.R.E. Program received a new vehicle Tuesday from Fremont Toyota.
“It is a pretty neat vehicle,” Deputy Travis Harnish said about the 2013 FJ Cruiser being donated. “They have set it up where it will be provided to us for free courtesy of Fremont Toyota. It is kind of unique. They put a little bit of their own stuff on it to make it look pretty cool. It will definitely stand out.”
Deputy Harnish, one of two D.A.R.E. officers for the county, said the program has been the beneficiary of several vehicles over the past few years. He said the most recently retired D.A.R.E. vehicle was a Chevy TrailBlazer donated by Hammer Chevrolet.
“I want to thank Hammer Chevrolet for donating the previous vehicle,” he said. “Over the years several of our local auto dealerships have provide us with a vehicle and without their support we could have never have had this program.”
The D.A.R.E. Program has been operating in the county for several years, but has changed and grown over the years.
“The old program was just on drugs, alcohol and tobacco,” Harnish said. “Now it really focuses on bullying, self confidence, handling stress, how to get help and becoming a good citizen. The ultimate goal is to give kids the tools to make good and responsible decisions. It encompasses a lot of things kids deal with these days.”
Harnish said the program works with fifth-graders in all three Sheridan County school districts and involves 10 lesson plans on various topics. He said the program has been a true partnership between the sheriff’s office, the schools and local businesses.
“Sheriff Hofmeier really believes in this program and supports it,” he said. “The kids in our communities are near and dear to his heart. The sheriff’s office unfortunately doesn’t have a lot of money to put into it. But the school districts themselves provide funding to buy classroom materials. And we are fortunate to have such strong support from our local auto dealerships.
“When kids see the vehicle they associate it with D.A.R.E. and the D.A.R.E. officer,” Harnish continued. “I think it is important for the kids that they get to know a law enforcement officer and that we are human, we have a sense of humor and they can talk to us.
“They can come and talk to us, ask us questions and ask for help. We’re there to help,” Harnish said. “We are a resource for kids.”