5 Minutes with the SRO — Substance abuse and summer activities | CraigDailyPress.com

5 Minutes with the SRO — Substance abuse and summer activities

School Resource Officer Ryan Fritz

Editors note: This edition of 5 Minutes with the School Resource Officer focuses on substance abuse, how it's being addressed in public schools and what the SRO does during summer.

Craig Press: What kind of substance abuse issues are you seeing in the schools?
Fritz: Not a whole lot, usually alcohol, tobacco and some marijuana. There is an ongoing case that I can't speak to with some allegations of methamphetamine use. We have had some students go to treatment for different substances. Otherwise, there's really nothing past rumors.

CP: Do incidents vary with grade level?
Fritz: There was zero in the grade school this year and very few substance abuse-related incidents at the middle school and high school. We are not seeing a big, huge explosion of violations as seen by other schools. Our numbers are declining.

CP: How does this compare to the same issues in the wider community?
Fritz: Think we've had four at the high school this year. For the wider community alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are not illegal for anyone over 21.

CP: Is there a drug problem at the high school?
Fritz: For illicit substances, it's a non-issue at the schools, other than rumors. To the Patterson case, I can't speak to that; it's still an ongoing investigation. I'm not seeing what he's seeing. I think our kids are generally above that, however, in every community, there are a percentage of people using substances that, for kids, are illegal.

CP: How does the D.A.R.E. program help address substance abuse?
Fritz: D.A.R.E. has a new slogan and curriculum, teaching students decision-making for safe and healthy living. So, while D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, starting in lesson one and two, we talk about risks and consequences, both positive and negative. Instead of telling them, ‘Don't do this and don't do that,’ we educate them on the real consequences and ways to avoid those situations. We also talk about stress, peer pressure, bullying, what it means to be responsible, the difference between telling and tattling, what it means to be a good citizen. In lesson two, we hit alcohol and tobacco pretty hard. Lesson 11, the very last lesson, is on methamphetamines, marijuana and heroin — the illicit drug’s class.

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CP: When is it taught, how is it taught, who teaches it and what training do instructors have?
Fritz: We teach the fifth-grade for 11 weeks, one hour a week. The instructors for next year are primarily officer Nathan Businger, Investigator Norm Rimmer and myself. … We attend the DOT D.A.R.E officer training over two weeks in Salt Lake City. In my 29-year public safety career, it's the hardest training I've ever been to. They don't graduate every officer.

CP: What is the cost of the program?
Fritz: In Moffat County, the Craig Police Department budget is about $1,000 a year. T-shirts are paid for by Substance Abuse Prevention Program ($1,750). There is zero cost to the school district (and) zero cost to the family.

CP: Where does the funding come from?
Fritz: Fundraisers. SAPP gets their money from fundraising and the Craig Police Department.

CP: Would you like to see programming for older students?
Fritz: There is a seventh-grade curriculum for D.A.R.E. and a ninth-grade curriculum I'd love to get into the high school. They reemphasize the substance abuse, bullying and the things students are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

CP: What would it take to get those programs implemented?
Fritz: Time in the classroom. D.A.R.E. America emphasizes the fifth and sixth-grade curriculum hard. Not a lot teach the seventh and ninth grade when it's a little harder to get into the classroom.

CP: Beyond D.A.R.E., what can be done to address the issue of substance abuse in our schools? Community?
Fritz: It starts at home. Parents need to be educated about what to look for. There's a lot of good information out there on the internet to educate about the signs of use. Prescription pill use — they’re finding those at home. Parents are unknowingly, unwittingly allowing students to get into those kinds of drugs, because they are at home and not secured.

CP: What do SROs do when school is out for summer?
Fritz: Craig Police Department SROs are also investigators, so I'm going to be using June to get caught up on investigations and paperwork I got behind in while working in the schools. It's an opportunity to take a little time off with our families. It's also an opportunity to get some training. I'll be helping to patrol and work the road a little bit. It's always fun to see kids outside of the school.

CP: What else would you like readers to know about these topics?
Fritz: In regards to D.A.R.E., I would like to publicly thank Beth Gilchrist, who retired this year. She has, for the last eight or nine years, done our D.A.R.E. certificates for the students and makes graduation go well. She will be greatly missed by our program.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

SRO Highlights

Following is a summary of the February, March, April and May SRO portion of the Craig Police Department monthly reports presented to the Craig City Council.

  • In February: SRO Fritz attended events and meetings that included Substance Abuse Prevention Program board meeting, multiple high school sporting events, the Moffat County Youth Advisory Council meeting. He followed-up on-going investigations, completed monthly training, served as the on-call investigator for two weeks, outreach at Boys & Girls Club. He presented classes on Drug and Alcohol Awareness, healthy relationships and depression/suicide. He spoke with the school board and Craig Press about steps the Craig Police Department take for school safety.
  • In March: In addition to monthly meetings and training, SRO Fritz followed up on a sex assault case that resulted in the arrest of the suspect, assisted the sheriff’s office in recovering a stolen vehicle, assisted patrol officers with an assault case involving students and attended a Communities that Care youth involvement meeting.
  • In April: In addition to monthly meetings and training, SRO Fritz after school hours made an arrest in a domestic violence incident, assisted a student and staff at Eagle’s Nest preschool and assisted the sheriff’s office and GOAL Academy High School staff with an off-campus incident.
  • In May: SRO Fritz, officer Businger and investigator Rimmer congratulated 174 students at the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony. In addition to regular meetings and training, SRO Fritz also testified in a hearing, attended staffing meetings for juveniles in secure detention, provided Eagle’s Nest Preschool with an Eddie the Eagle Gun Safety presentation.

The full report, including a list of activities at each grade level, is available each month as part of the Craig Police Department’s report to City Council and can be accessed online at ci.craig.co.us/government/city_council/council_packets