SIDNEY — The Shelby County DARE program will be riding in style this summer with a brand-new dedicated vehicle.
“The DARE vehicle, it is across the board with DARE programs. That’s the one thing we use that DARE officers, that are lucky enough to have one like the one that we’re getting — it’s out of this world, it’s fantastic, and we’re looking forward to be able to utilize that in a way that’s going to benefit the kids,” Deputy Brian Strunk, DARE officer, said.
The vehicle is a 2021 Ford Bronco purchased from Buckeye Ford and has replaced a 2009 Ford Excursion, and is sponsored by Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell. Jerry McName, of Buckeye Ford, aided the Sheriff’s Office in finding the vehicle, which cost a total of $26,984. The striping, done by DanCo Lettering, cost a total of $750.
“We’re just excited, and I can’t thank Prosecutor Tim Sell for his support with this any more than I already have. Without him, we would not have been able to do this,” Sheriff Jim Frye said.
Frye added the vehicle is unique because unlike most vehicles the Sheriff’s Office utilizes, the Bronco is not a pursuit vehicle. Additionally, while it has the same striping as sheriff vehicles, it bears the DARE logo — making it easily recognizable and inviting to the community, especially younger children.
“It’s different, and it’s unique. When people see it, they’re automatically drawn to it because it’s not a standard police vehicle that you would see on an everyday basis,” Shelby County Sheriff Jim Frye said.
The DARE vehicle will be used on a daily basis, going from school to school within Shelby County; likewise, the vehicle will be part of community parades and events throughout the county that DARE is part of. According Strunk, the DARE program has expanded over the last decade through activities such as DARE Camp, outreach programs throughout the summer, and adding schools such as Holy Angels and the Christian Academy to the schools that participate in the DARE program. There have also been several elementary-level programs added during the school year, such as safety curriculums with animal safety and stove safety. Currently, the program serves an average of 425 fifth grade students each year in the anti-drug program specifically.
“It has shown a significant trend where it’s growing and growing, and just keeps getting a little bit bigger each year, it seems like,” Strunk said.
According to Strunk, having a dedicated DARE vehicle as sparked the interest of children, and is a conversation starter that bridges the gap and helps deputies connect with young people in the community.
“Whenever the children are outside on the playground, they can look over into the school parking lot and see that vehicle sitting there with all of the different types of insignias. It draws attention, and when I see them in the hallways, that’s fresh on their mind. It instigates the child to come and talk to me about something. That dedicated DARE vehicle is the one thing that pushes us across the bridge and tries to pull those children over there to talk to us. We can talk to them and look for different red flags, if they’re talking about anything that’s going on in their life that we need to address,” Strunk said.
“Just about every county has a dedicated DARE vehicle for their DARE program, and we are just very, very lucky to be able to do what we’ve done this year with this vehicle,” Frye said. “It was very much needed, and we’re just so happy to put it in service.”
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