In early 1988, in an effort to provide drug prevention education to children in Tangipahoa Parish schools, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff=s Office sent Deputy Bud Cason out of state to be trained to present a new program called D.A.R.E. to the students in Tangipahoa schools. D.A.R.E.=s entrance into Louisiana caught the attention of law enforcement administrators across the state. It also caught the attention of Mr. Ken Walker, Director of the Red River Delta and Northwest Law Enforcement Planning Districts. Mr. Walker began to research D.A.R.E., and soon saw its potential for reaching children in Louisiana with drug prevention education. He contacted the Southeast Regional D.A.R.E. Training Center in North Carolina seeking information on bringing D.A.R.E. to Louisiana. Agent Terry Johnson, with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) arranged to bring a training team to Louisiana and conducted the first Louisiana D.A.R.E. Officer Training in June 1990. That first Louisiana training had 40 officers enrolled. Mr. Walker then approached the Northwest and Red River Delta Planning Councils about funding additional trainings in central Louisiana and also obtained partial funding for salary, benefits and supplies for D.A.R.E. Officers in his districts.
A small group of about ten D.A.R.E. officers and Mr. Walker attended their first National Conference in Arizona in 1990. Out of this experience came the realization of what was going on all across the country, and a need to form a statewide chapter of D.A.R.E. Officer Association was discovered. These initial steps, that led to the formation of the LDOA (Louisiana D.A.R.E. Officers= Association) were spearheaded by Ken Walker and a handful of the state=s original D.A.R.E. Officers.
Recognizing the need for drug prevention education for all school children in Louisiana, Mr. Walker sought help from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. After a presentation at the LSA annual conference, sheriffs from all across the state voted D.A.R.E. as the LSA’s Program of Choice for drug prevention in Louisiana. With this support, Mr. Walker contacted the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement (LCLE) about seeking funding to support D.A.R.E. as a statewide program. Concordia Parish Sheriff, Randy Maxwell, having seen the potential of D.A.R.E. to reach thousands of children with a life saving message took a lead role in working with the LCLE and state legislature in obtaining the first statewide funding for D.A.R.E. and the Louisiana D.A.R.E. Advisory Board was formed to oversee the program.
Red River Delta was officially accredited as a State D.A.R.E. Training Center by the D.A.R.E. Regional Training Center and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation in 1994. The district continued in that role until November 2004. During the 14 year RRD tenure 27 sessions of D.A.R.E. Officer Training, 12 sessions of Junior High Curriculum Training and 4 sessions of Parent Curriculum Training were conducted, training a total of 1050 officers.
Number of officers trained from 1990 to 2004 are, 999 in-state, 69 from out-of-state and 1 from out-of-country.
With the D.A.R.E. program well on its way to becoming established in every area of the state, the Red River Delta and Northwest Law Enforcement Planning Districts began to seek a more permanent funding source. After many long, hard battles in legislature, and over several years of continuous planning efforts by the Training Center and D.A.R.E. Officers= Association, the D.A.R.E. Program is now funded through the Tobacco Tax Health Care Fund from Act 19 of the 2002 Regular Legislative Session which provides for a one cent sales tax per pack of cigarettes sold.