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Houlton Police Department
97 Military Street
Houlton, ME 04730


Over the years, this community has worked to counteract the growing problem of drug abuse with support groups and public forums.

Now the Houlton Police Department is gearing up to add another resource to those efforts by rekindling the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program at the Houlton Southside School after a yearlong hiatus.

Houlton police Officer Steve Nason recently returned from two weeks of training in New Hampshire to become a D.A.R.E. officer. He will begin instructing the SAD 29 pupils in mid-January. The department did not have a D.A.R.E. officer in the middle school last year, as Houlton's former D.A.R.E. officer left to take another position.

The D.A.R.E. program offers youth skills to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence. The program was founded in 1983 and is now being implemented in 75 percent of school districts in the United States and in more than 43 countries around the world, according to the D.A.R.E. Web site.

Police Chief Butch Asselin said earlier this week that he was excited to have Nason leading the program. "We had the D.A.R.E. program when I was [police chief] in Skowhegan, and I believe it is an effective program that helps deter kids from taking drugs and teaches them about making good choices," he said. "Officer Nason is a great officer and a good fit for this position."

Asselin said the program that will be delivered to the students in Houlton will be slightly revamped. "The usual program is delivered in 10 weeks, but because of the makeup of the school system, we believe we can do it in two weeks," he said. "Officer Nason will be in the school every day, all day during that time period."

Nason said the two-week D.A.R.E. officer training - which was delivered in New Hampshire because it no longer is offered in Maine - was intensive. The program the students will take part in will be more interactive than in past years, and the youth will participate in the sessions.

"I am very excited to get started," he said earlier this week. Nason said he already has begun joining the middle-schoolers for lunch whenever possible in order to get to know them better before the program starts.

Already looking to the future, Asselin said he would like to see the program grow. "I would like to expand it to include kids from Hodgdon [SAD 70]," he said. "We are all part of a greater community and we are all dealing with this problem."

Ariticle courtsey Bangor Daily News Dec. 2007