For the last eight years, Lt. Lisa Jackson and Sgt. Darrin Miller have worked with more than 600 fifth-graders each school year – in every St. Bernard public and private school – with the aim of saving kids from a life of drug addiction, crime committed to get money for drugs and a probable prison term, if not death.
For the work they do, Jackson and Miller, veteran sheriff’s deputies who teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program in schools, were given this quarter’s St. Bernard Kiwanis Club Life-Saver Award on Jan. 17
“We give them (students) the tools to make good choices,’’ said Jackson, commander of the D.A.R.E. program in schools and a deputy since 1992. And in case kids may find themselves in bad situations, she said, “we discuss strategies to help them get out.’’
Miller, a deputy since 1993, said,“We tell them to be responsible. If they are responsible for their actions they can avoid trouble.”
Sam Catalanotto, chairman of the Life-Saver Award Committee, and Kiwanis Club President Amanda Hardesty participated in the ceremony, along with Sheriff James Pohlmann, Chief Deputy Sheriff Richard Baumy and Col. Robert McNab.
Catalanotto said the Life-Saver Award, given twice a year to sheriff’s deputies and twice to firefighters, was started to honor first-responders who make significant contributions to the parish.
Sheriff Pohlmann, who revived the D.A.R.E. program in 2009 after it was dormant for years following Hurricane Katrina, said he wanted students at a young age to receive information to help them make good choices in avoiding future problems.
D.A.R.E. is aimed at instilling self-respect in children and providing them with facts to help avoid the use of illegal drugs, not indulge in alcohol or tobacco at a young age and swear off bullying others or resorting to violence.
Jackson and Miller both had experience dealing with the problems of children from when they worked in the parish Juvenile Detention Center.
Both say they believe many of the children retain what they are taught, based on conversations they have had with past students.
Sheriff Pohlmann told the Kiwanis Club members that Jackson and Miller “do a wonderful job.’’
“If they save one child’s life or one family from the despair of a child’s drug addiction they’ve done a good job.’’