New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 4, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
Herald-Zeitung □ Sunday, February 4, 1996 □ 9 A
DARE officer brings message into schools
By DAVID DEKUNDER
DARE officer Robert Owens of the New Braunfels Police Department dared Darlene Hartmann’s fifth grade class at Saints Peter and Paul School to do two things — stay off drugs and stay away from gangs.
“I tell them that they are responsible for their own safety,” Owens said. “When I talk to these kids, a lot of them don’t think they have control over the situation, but I give them the power to recognize the dangers associated with drugs and gangs. I tell them the more they are responsible for their safety, the more they will help their parents, the police and the community.”
Owens spoke to the elementary school children as part of DARE’s program to reach out to children at Saints Peter and Paul, New Braunfels schools and Comal ISD schools in the elementary and junior high grades. Owens, a New Braunfels resident who went until the fifth grade to Saints Peter
and Paul, said it is always special for him to speak to Hartmann’s fifth grade
“I have been with the DARE program for five years,” Owens said. “I taught some of these kids when they were in the second, third and fourth grades. I give them as much information as I can because if they were my kids I would like for someone to do the same thing for them.”
As he spoke to the fifth graders, Owens related an incident in which he got robbed in Dallas while attending a conference last year. The message of his story was how to remain calm during sticky situations.
“It was a really scary situation,” Owens told the kids as he reflected about the incident. “I did a whole lot of praying, and a lot of things flashed through my mind, especially my wife and my kids. What I was thinking was ‘Don’t get them mad.’ I was polite to them and did everything they told me to do and I gave them my money.”
Later on, the robbers were arrested
and one of them had been wanted on a murder warrant. Owens said if the robber had known he was a police officer he would have probably shot him.
Alcohol and drugs were also a major part of the discussion Owens had with the students.
He said that alcohol is a drug and can be fatal if it is misused.
Owens said he has had some friends from high school who had died alcohol-related deaths. His first wife also was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
Alcohol, especially in small towns like New Braunfels, is part of the culture because parents may drink it and allow their teenagers and their friends to drink it, he said.
“Most teenagers don’t believe alcohol is a drug, but it effects the body and mind like any other drug,” Owens said.
The DARE program targets kids in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh grades. There arc also programs for kindergartners. The topics in these pro-
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Hartmann said the DARE program is beneficial to her students.
“Mr. Owens is wonderful because he teaches the kids in a wonderful and entertaining way, but gets his point across,” Hartmann said. “This is a critical point in their lives and we need to get in their heads the message (that drugs and gangs are dangerous).”
Herald-Zeitung photo by DAVID DEKUNDER
DARE officer Robert Owens speaks to a group of children.
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