Accident leads to opportunity for Hays PD
By DAWNE LEIKER
A specially designed hot new set of wheels recently was added to the Hays Police Department's fleet of patrol cars.
Although the idea of purchasing the black 2012 Dodge Charger -- later finished with body graphics and lights -- came in the aftermath of an accident during the summer that destroyed a patrol car, the new Drug Abuse Resistance Education program vehicle has been a positive addition to the HPD.
"Eventually, we began to see that as an opportunity," Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said of the accident. "An opportunity to diversify our fleet and have a specially designed vehicle to promote the police department and our DARE program."
DARE officer Nick Eiden was tasked with designing the exterior graphics and special lighting for the Charger, which, in addition to school DARE visits, will be used for parades, police presentations and other community events.
The vehicle's graphics and lights were financed through the city's special alcohol tax.
"This unique vehicle will be a huge resource and a great dialogue starter and a rapport builder," Scheibler said.
"This is truly a positive thing for the Hays Police Department and our community," Scheibler said.
Local DARE students have responded enthusiastically to seeing the new car, Eiden said.
"The first time they went out there (to see the car), they looked at the side and saw DARE on the side and said, 'Is that for us?' " he said. "They're excited to see that buy-in. ... We're investing in them and saying, 'Hey, you're important, and we care about you.' "
The DARE program, implemented in Hays schools in 1993, is offered to all fifth-graders in Hays elementary schools. This year, 355 students are enrolled in the program.
The core curriculum is designed for those students who will be moving on to middle school the next school year. By focusing on this exit grade, Eiden and resource officer Tim Dreiling provide the knowledge and skills to enable students to resist the temptation to use drugs or react violently to problems. Each DARE school year ends with a culmination event in May that celebrates the completion of the year's lessons.