Officer Friendly and D.A.R.E.

Hello dear reader(s)!

If you read my post about the egging, you might think that my view of police is rather poor.  But that is not the case.  I have had some great experiences with police, and I have had some rather poor (although great by some comparisons) experiences with police.

Yes, I think that 16 cops and 8 cruisers responding to 4 kids throwing eggs (they were a lot of eggs though) was a bit heavy-handed.  And I certainly take issue with the police barging their way into the house uninvited and forcing down and handcuffing a 14 year-old girl who was simply telling the truth that she had no idea what was going on.  (Think about it, I could easily find a way onto your roof and throw eggs from it, would that give the police the right to burst into your home?)  But for that experience I chalk up the over-reaction to more boredom than anything else.  Most of the officers were polite and just wanted to teach us a lesson.  Scared straight was the order of the day.

There was one officer that crossed the line.  That officer was the one who threw down Rance’s sister and placed her in handcuffs.  That officer was the one who my sister (stupidly) jumped on to try to stop.  That is the officer that claimed to the juvenile court judge that my sister dug her nails into his arm but was unable to show any marks the same day this incident supposedly took place.  That officer was an asshole.

But as we weren’t really trouble makers, after all the sanctions were over, the incident was quickly forgotten.  We still generally viewed police as the good people most were.  On Halloween, the police in our town would put orange plastic jack-o-lanterns on their light-bars and drive around, patrolling to make sure kids were safe as they were out trick-or-treating.  If one was stopped, it was more than okay to approach them for candy.

In school, we had a local police officer who was assigned to the schools.  His entire job was to go around to the schools, show them that police can be okay, and that it was okay and even encouraged to go to the police when you needed help.  He would come in and talk to us after they showed the cheesy filmstrips to attempt to keep us from being molested (big success those were, huh?) and would just hang around from time to time and talk to us.  He was called “Officer Friendly” and he was a really nice, friendly person.  And between my 4th and 5th grade years, he retired.  And who do you think replaced him?

Officer Asshole.  Of course, I knew his name, it was burned in my memory.  We were to call him Officer Friendly too, but I wouldn’t.  I called him Officer (last name).  I tried to be open minded that the one experience may have negatively colored my opinion of him, but everyone agreed.  He was no Office Friendly.  He was an asshole.  Everyone else called him Officer Bitch.

Coincidentally, he was assigned to us right about the same time D.A.R.E. was launched in our schools.  This was the height of the drug paranoia.  The 80’s, when failed Hippies blamed all of their problems on the substances they used instead of their poor decision making.  For those of you who don’t know what D.A.R.E. is, it stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.  For those of you who never have had the D.A.R.E. propaganda program, here are some of the highlights:

  • All drug users become violent criminals
  • If your parents do drugs, you need to turn them in, before they become out-of-control degenerates
  • Marijuana makes people violent
  • Dealers are intentionally leaving acid on blotter paper in patterns attractive to children so they will accidentally trip on their LSD and become addicted and want more
  • It takes more than saying, “No thanks,” to turn down someone offering you drugs
  • Drug users hate to use alone and will try anything they can to get you to use with them (as if they aren’t paying for their drugs)
  • Every illegal drug is as bad as the worst illegal drugs

Now here is what I learned from D.A.R.E.

  • The government lies to you
  • Not all police are friendly
  • Not all police can be trusted
  • Because I have observed people on both marijuana and harder drugs, maybe marijuana isn’t as bad as I had always thought
  • Where are all these slips of paper supposedly all over this playground, and wouldn’t that be cost-prohibitive?

So D.A.R.E. was not a great program for me or anyone else I knew.  To make things even worse, they would regularly bring tricked-out D.A.R.E. cars that they said were seized from dealers and tricked-out with forfeiture money to “create awareness” (further their propaganda.)  Now, when reading the news, you learn that most assets forfeited are from cases that never result in a conviction, so you (if you are anything like me) quickly start to see the people pushing this program as thieves and liars.  Great face for the police.

And it wasn’t just the program.  The guy was a real asshole.  He would call the kids who had the ripped up jeans (maybe style, but often because we played and tore the knees and couldn’t afford new jeans right away) losers.  He would tell the kids who got in a little fist-fight that they were going to jail.  Not that they could if they kept it up, but that they would.  When we’d break the rules and play tackle football instead of the touch-football that was allowed, he’d tell us he could charge us with Battery.  Battery, for a kid trying to emulate the the heroes we were told to have by society on our televisions every weekend.

After elementary school I forgot about Officer-not-so-friendly until I was in the 8th grade and my friend Amber got shot in the leg with a BB-gun by the officer’s son, who was a couple grades behind us.  Being who he was, we knew he would escape too severe of punishment.

I again put the officer and his son out of my mind, until sometime after high school when I heard that a local police officer’s son had been shot and killed in a local park during a drug deal gone bad.  I knew it at the time, and eventually it was confirmed.  The deceased, the dealer, was the son of the same officer who took the war on drugs to my elementary school.

I will never say that he deserved that to happen.  I will never say that he was a bad parent, I just don’t know.  But, I do find it odd that I knew exactly who the son was before the name was released.  And I do believe that if this officer was the same kind of person, the same kind of parent, as he was the face of the police to children…then I am not surprised.

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

20 thoughts on “Officer Friendly and D.A.R.E.”

  1. Ugh… I remember DARE. It was still alive and well when I left high school and I see now that I’m back teaching in these same schools, that they still use the program… which I think is totally weird because I thought it had been deemed archaic and ineffective awhile back, but apparently, not in small towns. ??? I personally don’t think it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d bet everyone has an Officer Asshole. Mine was named O’Donnell…
    I said before, cops are just like any other tool; they can be useful and/or dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up surrounded by police because my father was on the auxiliary and was friends with many of them, including the Chief. My
    father died of a brain tumor when I was 16, and I remember how supportive his “brothers” were. Several years later the Chief retired and things began to change. While boasting about achieving yearly accreditation, our town’s police force is seen by many as thugs and bullies. I find it sad when those in authority misuse their power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And it isn’t like their are good people out there trying. Good cops who don’t like the corruption, but when these cops become the face of their force, it is just sad. Police officers are great, wanna be combat soldiers not in the military are not.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am a DARE child, too. What a colossal waste it (and the war on drugs) has been.

    That’s sad about the officer’s son. There’s always those people who think that whatever “it” is can’t happen to them or their families–it’s someone else’s problem. That may not be the case with the officer here, but a lot of times parents overlook obvious issues just because they can’t accept that their kids and their worlds may be less than perfect, until it all comes crashing down.

    BTW, we had Hot Officer when I was in elementary school. Or so the older girls called him. He was a total sweetheart, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always hesitate posting anything criticizing any police, because I do know that the majority of them are probably good people, but this guy was an asshole. Whether that contributed to his son’s death will never be known. And “Hot Officer”? EW!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha yep, especially coming from girls who were in no more than the 6th grade.

        Same…the bad ones make it bad for them all. Although I do wonder if due to the WOD and all the extra money thrown that way, how many officers get hired on that wouldn’t have made the cut previously.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am certain that is a huge factor. DARE was a creation (maybe in collaboration) of Daryl Gates, LA Police chief, champion of police militarization, very anti drug, created racist policies, and absolutely hated protest and civil disobedience. He can largely be held responsible for the change in policing and the black eye law enforcement now has among many people.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I really thought this was going to be a blog about Rick from the Walking Dead, I seem to have zombies on the brain today, but enjoyed the zombie-free read nonetheless! It’s a shame that that particular officer will have created such a negative image of the police for so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but he is gone now, and the police here are much better for it. I want to know who thought it would be a good idea to out him in charge of dealing with children.

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