Despite eliminating its DARE program, The Bloomingdale Police Department still plans to have officers in local schools frequently throughout the year.
Chief Frank Giammarese said the new program that began this month will decrease department costs while also increasing interactions between officers and students.
"We recognize how important the students are in the community, and the program that was presented in the past," he said. "We are trying to continue the message and step up day-to-day interactions to still build this rapport."
Formerly, the 11-week DARE program put community relations Officer Dawn Odoi in fifth-grade classrooms for one hour per week, per class at several Bloomingdale-area schools.
Deputy Chief Randy Sater told a village board committee earlier this summer that DARE's setup requires a large majority of Odoi's payroll hours, as she prepares lessons and grades papers. DARE also creates additional costs with giveaways and T-shirts that officials hope to reduce.
The department's new program format will have a rotating group of officers spending shorter amounts of time at the same schools more frequently at various grade levels. The program will also include two or three assemblies each year on topics like drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, bullying and social networking concerns.
Giammarese said the assemblies will ideally match topics targeted at appropriate grade levels.
Village President Bob Iden instructed the police department to keep track of feedback on the new program, which does not have a name or acronym. Giammarese said it is possible that officers will solicit ideas from students in the future to name the new program.