Colonie to take a hard look at D.A.R.E.

Heider said the police department will cover the costs of the workbooks through an educational fund balance the police department has set aside, as well as D.A.R.E. program fundraisers.

"We have money to more than support the program," said Heider.

One thing that never was funded by the state and is instead funded by the Town of Colonie is the salary and benefits of the four officers who are certified to teach D.A.R.E. in the schools in Colonie.

"It comes out to about $100,000 per [officer]," according to Blair.

The base salary of a typical officer in the Colonie Police Department is around $42,000, according to Heider, while certified D.A.R.E. officers are paid more.

"If we did away with the D.A.R.E. program, it wouldn't save $300,000," said Heider, adding that the four certified D.A.R.E. officers would continue to be paid about $100,000 each.

Heider said that to be certified for the D.A.R.E. program, officers must attend a one-time, two-week course, which is usually held out of town. That training was previously funded by the state but is no longer. However, Heider said, the police department will not have to incur training costs this year because all four officers are already certified.

Of the four officers, the one hired by the South Colonie Central School District as a school resource officer has duties that include monitoring activity inside Colonie Central High School, as well as creating a police presence in the school in an effort to make students comfortable with police and build a bridge of respect. The $40,000 the school district pays to have a school resource officer goes toward the police department budget.

North Colonie Central School District does not to have a school resource officer.

Heider said, in order to have that officer maintain his D.A.R.E. certification while working as a school resource officer, South Colonie's officer also teaches D.A.R.E. one morning per week for the 10-week program at Shaker Road Elementary School.

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