When Great Bend Police Officer Jacob Harlow’s two children are old enough for school, he hopes they’ll get something like the DARE program’s new “Keepin’ it REAL” class. In fact, he wouldn't mind teaching it to them.
Harlow is the newest member of the Great Bend Police Department’s three-man Drug Abuse Resistance Education team that puts officers in fifth-grade classrooms. The new DARE curriculum deals with more than just saying "no" to drugs, he said. Keepin’ it REAL reminds kids of their options when offered any bad choice: Refuse, Explain, Avoid or Leave.
“It teaches life skills,” Harlow said. There are lessons on decision making and on bullying.
Every fifth grader who attends school in Barton County takes the DARE class, taught by a trained law enforcement officer, said GBPD School Liaison Officer Jefferson Davis. GBPD teaches the course in all Great Bend USD 428 schools and at the Central Kansas Christian Academy. Holy Family School in Great Bend and area schools outside of Great Bend receive the training from the Barton County Sheriff’s Office’s DARE officers.
Davis and K-9 Officer Brian Dougherty are the GBPD’s other DARE instructors.
Being a DARE instructor doesn’t reduce an officer’s time on the streets, Davis said. “He’s still assigned to his normal patrol duties." Harlow will be assigned to teach DARE class at Jefferson Elementary this fall, and at Riley Elementary and CKCA in the spring.
“We’re excited to have him on board,” Davis said. The job calls for an experienced officer who likes kids and shows extra initiative. Harlow had to compete with at least one other officer for the DARE job.
After being selected, he attended two weeks training at Pierre, S.D. The first 40 hours covered the DARE course material and how to teach it to different age groups. The second half got into child psychology and hands-on experience.
“We had to present four different lessors while we were up there,” Harlow said. “Towards the end, we actually spent half a day at a local summer school program and got to spend time in front of the kids. We taught about 50 kids, ate lunch with them and played at recess with them.”
Twenty-eight officers attended the training and were place in five teams, each with its own mentor. At the end of the training, Harlow’s mentor chose him for the Outstanding Team Member award.
A native of Sylvia in Reno County, Harlow joined the GBPD two years ago and has earned the rank of Patrolman II. He and his wife Kalyn have been married three years. Their children are 2 1/2 years old and 10 months old.