A member of the Washington County Sheriff's Office for 28 years, and a road deputy for 20, Craig Brockmeier has seen first hand the effects drugs and alcohol can have on area youth.
For 12 years he has been serving as a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer for the sheriff's office, helping teach children in fifth and sixth grades about the risks of drug use.
Q: How did you become the D.A.R.E. officer for the sheriff's office?
Washington County Sheriff’s deputy Craig Brockmeier displays some of the D.A.R.E. program materials at the criminal division on Fourth Street on May 7. Brockmeier is the D.A.R.E. officer for the sheriff’s office.
KEVIN PIERSON The Marietta Times
A: We started out as COP officers, or Community Oriented Police, in 1992. It just seemed like the D.A.R.E. program went along with the Community Oriented Police. We started doing the D.A.R.E. program with the COP. At one time or another it became just a full-time thing to do D.A.R.E. We had several D.A.R.E. officers. It just sort of fit into everything, and getting into the schools is a good thing.
Q: What does your role as a D.A.R.E. officer entail? What do you do?
A: Basically what D.A.R.E. is is you have an eight to 10-week program where you talk to the young adults, either fifth or sixth grade, about drugs, alcohol, smoking and some of the effects. We put them in fatal vision goggles so when I talk to them about alcohol they can see what it does. When we put them in the fatal vision goggles we have them walk and turn and try to shoot basketballs. This year we had prisoners from our local jail go in and talk to them. When I started it was Drug Abuse Resistance Education, now it's Define Assess Respond Evaluate. It's more about the choices you make. We can talk about drugs and how it affects you, but you have to let them understand the choices you make now can affect you in high school.
Experience: 28 years with Washington County Sheriff's Office, 12 years as D.A.R.E. officer.
Family: Wife, two daughters, two grandsons, three stepchildren.
Education: OPATA certification in 1992.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you see young people facing when it comes to drugs and alcohol?
A: I think the biggest factor is the peer pressure. You talk to them about that in D.A.R.E. class and they think it's this big group of people trying to get you to do drugs. Most of the time when somebody is asked about drugs or alcohol or tobacco it's a friend saying 'I tried this, you should, too.' How do you say no to your friend? The kids are very smart now days. They know a lot. They're trying to fit in. I try to make them understand that fitting in can be with folks that don't do drugs, alcohol or tobacco. If you want to play soccer or basketball you can't do that.
Q: What advice do you give to kids about how to respond to these challenges?
A: Every class I talk to I tell them I won't lie to them. Honestly, at 18 you can smoke and you can rub snuff. At 21 you can drink, but we talk about what happens if you do. A lot of them really don't want to do that. They've seen a parent or grandparent die from cancer, or they see someone killed in a car crash due to alcohol. You have to show them what else there is to do.
It's not only the D.A.R.E. program, but also an officer in the school. A lot of times the only time they see us is when we're out doing our job. That's not always a good thing. This let's them have a friend that shoots hoops with them.
Q: What are some things out there to help young people with drug addiction?
A: As far as known things, you've got L&P Services, some of the local hospitals have drug services. The big thing is they need to know their parents are there for them. The church is there for them. The principal, their teachers, their best friend's mom. A lot of times it helps just talking to them.
Kevin Pierson conducted this interview.