Friday, November 29, 2013

McLennan Sheriff ignores data, research on ill-conceived DARE program

In McLennan County, where District Attorney Abel Reyna's hard-nosed approach to plea bargaining has resulted in a dramatic uptick in the number of cases taken to trial, the Sheriff and county commissioners are struggling with how to provide sufficient courthouse security for all the extra court proceedings. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports ("Commissioners struggle to fund courthouse security for uptick in trials," Nov. 29) that the commissioners court is considering eliminating the DARE program and reassigning the deputies to courthouse security. Grits thinks eliminating DARE is a good idea no matter what the deputies do instead. As the paper noted at the article's conclusion:
national statistics do not support the idea that the DARE program is successful.

The Alcohol Abuse Prevention website states that the U.S. Department of Education doesn’t allow school money to be used toward DARE because it has proved to be ineffective in convincing children not to choose drugs.

“Scientific evaluation studies consistently have shown that DARE is ineffective in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs and is sometimes even counterproductive — worse than doing nothing,” the website states.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara said he is sensitive to the security and budget issues the court faces, but added he disagrees with national data and is against the elimination of the drug awareness classes.
McNamara said his task forces are working hard to eliminate drug activity in the county and that he fully supports anything that would give the department an advantage.

McNamara said 90 percent of the people he arrests are associated with illegal drugs in some way. He said the standard excuse for any criminal activity is being mentally unsound on an illegal substance.

“As serious as the drug situation is in McLennan County, I wish the court would look long and hard before doing away with the DARE program,” he said.
Leave it to McLennan County law enforcement to insist on a program that data shows is not just "ineffective" but "counterproductive." DARE is not a law enforcement initiative, it's a propaganda campaign. And prioritizing it at the expense of courthouse security is just dumb as dirt.


Anonymous said...

My only question is when will TDCAA name Abel "Prosecutor of the Year" (aka the Ken Anderson award)? He seems to have picked up where John Bradley left off.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit like trying to teach math to a lot of these kids--counter-productive and a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

DARE actually introduced narcotics to my kids. Prior to DARE my children had no idea about drugs never having dealt with any that used them. Gee, thanks officer Krupke!

Anonymous said...

Take just 10-minutes and look at the hundreds of cops who were DARE officers and are now convicted child molesters. All the DARE program does is allow cops unfettered access to children:

Anonymous said...

McLennan County always stays about three decades behind and this is simply more of the same. Any buffoon that can get on Google would had figured out a long time ago that DARE is a thing of the past.

With regards to Abel Reyna: he claimed the infamous JOHN BRADLEY was his MENTOR prior to being elected. Again, any buffoon could have googled his mentor to find out what his real agenda might be.
And unfortunately, McLennan County will be stuck with him for awhile because no attorney will dare to run against him because a loss of the election would mean a loss of their law practice.

The next topic McLennan County should google is "The War on Drugs" and see how much good all of that has done. Many other enlightened communities are shifting their focus toward the root cause of the problem which is addiction. Then google "supply and demand theory" and apply it to the problem.

Ever wondered why your GPS pronounces Waco as Wacko?

Michael said...

I live in McLennan County and I'm happy with Abel. However I work in Bell County and the DA's office there is horrible. I wish the Bell County DA's Office would be more aggressive like McLennan County.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next time Barney forgets his pistol is loaded and plays cops-and-robbers he'll solve the Abel Reyna problem.

Anonymous said...

Going to Waco is like stepping back into the 80's. The best this city can hope for is to leach off of passersby on that horrendous IH35. Significance in any area is lacking there except for a quick fast food meal, bathroom break, or price gouging gasoline. No doubt criminal justice is similarly rated.

Anonymous said...

First, I thought D.A.R.E. grants were terminated across the board years ago?
Secondly, isn't it a little unrealistic to expect Sheriff's to use data driven programs? They are popularly elected and most local voters probably get warm fuzzy feelings when they see pictures of D.A.R.E. cars, uniforms, billboards, etc.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I believe you're correct that federal DARE grants were continued, 9:15. The county is paying for this out of their own coffers, which is why the commissioners court suggested discontinuing the program to pay for courthouse security.

The commissioners court is popularly elected, too, but voters in those races care more about property tax hikes (which in Waco, all stem from county jail costs) than warm and fuzzy feelings about the DARE program.

Anonymous said...

Number one, courthouse security is of small concern to most anyone. Jail staff transports and guards prisoners and there have been no major incidents in recent memory.

Number two, deputies assigned to perform courthouse security duty are almost always the ones too useless to do anything else. Yet you must be careful not to place an idiot there, so it can be a difficult decision on who to place there.

Number three, as any manager surely will tell you, an increase in staff is an increase in your salary. The more deputies, the higher pay for the sheriff. Not to mention what he can skim from the contractors who provide vehicles, etc. So look for the sheriff to request additional personnel from the county commissioners.

Sam said...

Let's not get too excited about studies. Also, what evidence based programs do work for drugs? Quoting Carol Weiss in a Harvard study on evidence based policy, "Observers have acknowledged some of the intrinsic weaknesses in research and evaluation.
Among the common complaints are untrustworthy evidence, unresponsiveness to decision
makers’ needs, fragmented data, and evidence that fails to cumulate or yields contradictory
findings (Saunders, 2005). Some writers complain that evaluators are too responsive to their
governmental sponsors and fail to look at outcomes from a program participant’s perspective
(Taylor, 2005). Others are concerned with the fact that like all social knowledge, evaluation
findings are historically contingent. They emerge from a particular time and place, inhabited
by certain people in particular patterns of interaction. Their findings do not represent eternal
truths. As Mulgar (2005) recently noted, people and systems change, and as they do, audiences
need to maintain a healthy skepticism about the validity of even the most robust
research evidence."

Anonymous said...

Or...just stop trying to control behavior. Addiction is one thing, and many of the law abiding people who discuss locking others up or causing them months or years of financial burden, are actually just as alcohol, pills prescribed by a doctor who either doesn't realize or doesn't care that you have a dependence on them, pornography, fatty foods, and the list can go on. We can't continue to attempt to dictate behavior, no matter how much you may wish you could. Discrimination based on what vice you've chosen, when so many are not regulated and are seen as being harmless because the judgemental elite says so is just hypocritical. To put it in terms maybe Waco can understand, you are passing judgment but you are NOT without sin and you're going to hell. :)

Amanda M. said...

Thank you ~ these are very important research issues to consider - especially when dealing with human lives!