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600 Attend D.A.R.E. Day Event in Pāhoa

May 22, 2019, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated May 22, 6:35 AM
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The D.A.R.E. event was a first at the Pāhoa Community Center and Recreation Facility. Courtesy photo

Approximately 600 students attended the 2019 D.A.R.E. Day event held at the Pāhoa Community Center and Recreation Facility, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Officer Josh Flores, who is a community policing school resource officer for Pāhoa Intermediate and High School, planned and coordinated the schedule of activities for the day’s event. The D.A.R.E curriculum is successfully implemented in Hawaiʻi Public Schools to educate students about the importance of saying no to drugs and alcohol. The day marks the end of the D.A.R.E. program for the school year and the completion of the classroom requirement.

Uniformed officers from across the Island, Kona, Hilo and Puna Districts, participated in engaging the students in demonstrations by Hawai‘i Police Department, Hawaiʻi Fire Department and the first ever helicopter landing at a D.A.R.E. Day event since the inauguration of the D.A.R.E. Program in Hawai’i more than 20 years ago.

Firefighters tore off the glass windshield from a parked vehicle and broke apart the vehicle with specialized tools called the Jaws of Life that they utilize during a crash or fire rescue at the D.A.R.E. event on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Courtesy photo

The event was a first at this new Hawai‘i County Parks & Recreation location. The dramatic helicopter landing was a point of visual interest, and true to life sound effects commandeered the young audience’s attention. Firefighters nearby the helicopter on the ground tore off the glass windshield from a parked vehicle and broke apart the vehicle with specialized tools called the Jaws of Life that they utilize during a crash or fire rescue. Firefighters transported a collision victim dummy to the helicopter to highlight the heroic efforts of the emergency Fire Department Hawaiʻi Air Rescue response team.

Hawaiʻi Police Department Bike Officer Dustin Sanpaga and Officer Joseph Rocha arrested a fleeing suspect in a demonstration that took place in the pouring rain, showcasing the fortitude of most first responders, who contend with variable weather conditions, unpredictable personalities and a variety of extreme and challenging situations.

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In a special cameo, a trained K-9 officer and his police dog, Rory, an Irish spaniel breed, effected a legal search to uncover drug evidence concealed within a carry bag. The Special Response Team arrived with fanfare, automatic weapons drawn and the team was deployed to enter and search a makeshift camp that was set up as a residence during the mock raid.

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The students seemed open to enjoying the activities and interaction with law enforcement. Students are taught to anticipate the field trip and the day’s events with a positive, reinforcing attitude toward the drug prevention message of the D.A.R.E. program.

Law enforcement officers, firefighters and lifeguards led the entire room of students in repeating the D.A.R.E. pledge in unison, which was a powerful moment of affirmation for the student body and this East Hawai’i community.

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