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TPD drug education youth program

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 18:16:18-04

One issue community leaders are working on is keeping drugs out of children's hands.

The Tallahassee Police Department DEFY Summer Leadership Program is teaching kids the dangers about drugs and alcohol and showing them the ways to stay on the right path.

TPD Captain Danielle Davis has been teaching the Drug Education For Youth, or DEFY, Summer Leadership Camp for 20 years.

"This is my passion. When I learned about this program way back in 2002 attending a crime prevention conference I said what is that? We need it in Tallahassee," said Davis. "This is what I look forward to every single year, working with these kids and hopefully making a difference in their lives."

A full class of 20 kids ages 9 to 12 are in the free prevention program that teaches them how to resist drug and positive life skills.

According to TPD, 12 children under the age of 18 were arrested for drug offenses last year. So far, 9 have been arrested this year. In an effort to reduce this number, Davis said the program teaches them the dangers of using drugs before it's too late.

"It's designed that way so before they get into the upper grades, they can develop these skills and learn before someone else has the opportunity to introduce them," said Davis.

This is something 10-year-old Zi'yon Smith wanted to know more about it.

"Just in case it happens so like I can know instead of doing it and getting sick and stuff," said Smith.

However, Brielle Ottley liked learning about the effects of alcohol.

"I really like the drunk glasses so you know what it's like when you're drunk and you do alcohol and why not to use it because it's really crazy and it doesn't look straight and I don't want to go through that," said Ottley.

The week-long camp also teaches things like health and physical fitness, self-esteem and conflict resolution skills.

"They can resolve conflicts with their mouths versus their hands, fists or guns because gun violence is a problem and hopefully at this age we will learn how to deal with conflicts with our mouths," said Davis.

Besides learning valuable life skills, Davis believes this is a great opportunity for officers to have a positive relationship with youth in the community.

"We're building relationships, we're building teens and they know that even after DEFY, they can always come back to us," said Davis. "I will forever be their mentor. They are always my kids, they're always the mentor's kids forever."

Another program TPD has to teach kids about safety is RAD Kids. That's for kids ages 7 to 12. They also have TAC Students which is for kids ages 7 to 17 and they teach them things like decision making skills or how to become a leader. You can reach out to TPD for more information and how to sign up for a class.