It has been four years since I represented SSDP at the D.A.R.E. conference, a gathering of hundreds of well-intentioned police officers from across North America who teach misinformation and scare tactics rather than honest, reality based drug education.
Well, here I am in San Antonio, TX, getting ready to do it again.
And after watching this promo video, I have to tell you, I'm pretty darned excited. Keynote speakers include drug warriors from all branches of government, like amnesiac victim Alberto Gonzalez, nutcake police Orrin Hatch, and Johnny P. Walters, who needs no introduction. But here it is in case you do.
As was the case last time, the main purpose will be to gather information on D.A.R.E.'s curriculum, which has been proven time and time again to be ineffective, possibly causing more drug abuse than it prevents. As a D.A.R.E. graduate, I demand better results from a program that has been adopted by more than 75% of public school districts.
But as you can see from the letter I distributed at the conference in 2004, my intent is not to attack the motives of these public servants. In fact, I think that the vast majority of police officers are good people -- it's the laws and the programs that they carry out that are unjust and counterproductive. As much as I may disagree with their stance on drug education and drug policy, I have to give them all the credit in the world for putting their lives on the line every day keeping us safe.
One day, when we finally stop using law enforcement to deal with public health issues, young people will look at police officers like they look at firemen and paramedics -- as heroes, not adversaries. And then (and only then) it might not be a bad idea for police officers to be involved with the rest of the community in the difficult but important task of teaching young people about drug abuse.
Each evening of the conference (Tues - Thurs), I'll be keeping you informed about my experience at the conference via blog posts. At some point, I'll also broadcast a live video transmission from SSDP's UStream channel. Keep an eye on this blog for info on the timing of that broadcast.
So, what questions should I pose to D.A.R.E. officers? Your suggestions in the comment section. Keep it respectful.
Remember kids, the world's most dangerous narcotic is ignorance. Just say know.