The Woodland Park Police Department (WPPD) has resumed offering the LEAD - Law Enforcement Against Drugs - program at Memorial Middle School. LEAD is similar to the now-defunct DARE program.
Officer Derrick Morrison is visiting all eighth grade social studies classes weekly. He and Det. Omaira Carino had undergone training to become LEAD program instructors prior to the pandemic. The program was launched at Beatrice Gilmore School for fourth grade classes and Memorial for eighth grade students.
After a hiatus due to COVID, the program is now back up and running at Memorial. Due to Carino's schedule, she is unable to take part this school year. However, Officer Fina Matranga is being trained so that lessons at Beatrice Gilmore can resume.
The program is presented in 10 lessons. The first unit is aimed at establishing and developing social and emotional competency skills. The second unit focuses on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and the effects of their use on the body. Additionally, the students learn about refusal strategies, using over-the-counter and prescription drugs safely and how making healthy choices will impact their life-long wellness.
In Morrison's first meeting with students the week of Feb. 28, he went over the program and opened the floor for an open Q&A dialogue, working to get to know the students and their concerns. The conversations touched briefly on Internet safety.
With regards to social media, Morrison told the students that there are bad people out there, targeting young people, especially girls.
"It's a real thing. It's a really scary thing," he said. "You have to be careful what you're putting out there, because once it's out there, it's out there."