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Carroll County state's attorney candidates discuss preventing drug use, distribution in schools

In 2013, county law enforcement agencies and Carroll County Public Schools discontinued the use of the D.A.R.E. program to educate students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

The school system instead began the Adopt-a-School Program, a partnership with Carroll County law enforcement which encourages members to form relationships with schools and students by visiting regularly.

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The State's Attorney's Office also partners with schools through initiatives for the Carroll County Coalition Against Underage Drinking and the Eddie Eagle gun safety program.

In the primary election on June 24, two Republican candidates will seek election as the Carroll County State's Attorney.

The candidates are Jerry Barnes, incumbent state's attorney, and Brian DeLeonardo.

We asked the candidates: What specific programs need to be in place in schools to prevent distribution and use of illegal substances and other dangerous crimes? What are the roles of the State's Attorney and schools in implementing or continuing these programs?

Barnes

: The State's Attorney's Office must continue its partnership with the State Police and the Sheriff's Office to continue K-9 scans in schools, just like we started back in 1995. This program was never intended to create more juvenile defendants, but to deter kids from bringing drugs and weapons to schools, and it has worked -- Carroll County Schools are among Maryland's safest. It's unfortunate that the D.A.R.E. program was discontinued due to funding issues, but the State's Attorney's Office should support the Sheriff's Department's initiative of partnering schools with deputies, and should provide prosecutors to work with students as well. In addition, we should continue to strengthen our Underage Alcohol Task Force to keep society's most dangerous drug -- alcohol -- out of the hands of our children and to remind parents of the grave dangers and legal consequences that can result from unlawfully providing alcohol to minors.

DeLeonardo

: As State's Attorney, and a father of four children, the safety of our children is of paramount concern for me. The major safety issue we currently see is drugs. The last official state statistics show that drug overdose deaths have risen 263 percent, and we have more heroin-related deaths than Frederick and Howard counties. The current approach is not working. I will partner with police to proactively identify how children are getting these drugs, and restore a drug investigator in the prosecutor's office that will quickly act on this information. I will advocate to restore the D.A.R.E. program in schools, and establish a drug education program designed for parents to ensure every parent has access to drug use information. Tragically, parents that have recently lost children to drug overdose have told me they wish they had been given the signs to look for when it came to their children using drugs.

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