Newly appointed Choctaw Nation DARE officer, Isaac James has begun his principal tasks for his new duty, which is to educate young minds on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, as well as teach them how to avoid situations that could produce encounters with such substances.
“I can not tell you how excited I am,” said James as he spoke about beginning his Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) classes, which kicked off in August. He will be covering five schools in the 10.5 counties over a nine-week period. He will travel to a different school each day of the week; making a five-school circuit that he will repeat each week.
During the nine weeks, he will be in fifth grade classrooms for 45-minute sessions, beginning with an introductory course to DARE, telling of its beginnings, purpose and goals. Following this, each class will focus on various aspects of how to keep safe from drugs, alcohol, firearms and other dangerous matters.
DARE is a program that began in 1983 Los Angeles, as a result of the efforts of the late LAPD Police Chief Daryl Gates who wanted to prevent the youth from getting involved with drugs and other destructive habits.
Now DARE is a functioning program in all 50 states of the United States as well as in 43 countries worldwide. In elementary schools, the fifth grade classes are privileged with partaking in the DARE program and taught how to avoid substance abuse and the peer pressure that leads to it.
Upon accepting the call to become the DARE officer, James was required to attend a two-week training located on the Natchez Trace Park in Wilderesville Tenn. James described the first week as being filled with classes and information. He would have to be in class until the late afternoon and then proceed to group activities and lesson planning in the evening, making for quite intensive training.
The second week of training was more hands-on. James and those participating were able to present and actually go to a school to do their inaugural DARE lesson. Once he finished this week, he came back to Southeastern Oklahoma, very excited to begin his new job. “Its quite an accomplishment,” mentioned James.
He went on to say that the training gave a greater spark to the interest he already had in the program. It made him realize the true impact he can have in his new position, mentioning that what he will be doing over the next few years can have a real effect on the lives of the youth and he stressed how much an education can detour a child from making a negative decision.
James is excited about that fact, and has an overarching goal for his work in DARE to make it happen. “I would like to see more kids get involved,” said James as he described how he will make it a point to reach as many youth as possible.
Reminiscing on his time in elementary school, he tells that he was not presented with this kind of education, and did not know the severity of the misuse of certain substances and the effects of peer pressure. In his position, he hopes to lend this knowledge to the widest audience possible so they will be able to know how to avoid dangerous situations early.
James spent his elementary years in Hartshorne School, and later moved on to Wilburton for high school, where he played football and baseball. He graduated in 2003 and went to work outside of law enforcement for a couple of years. In October of 2005 he became a reserve officer in Wilburton while he worked for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. In July of 2006 he earned his status as a full time police officer for the Latimer County Sheriff’s Department.
His decision to enter law enforcement came about due to his family’s close association with the profession. Two of James’ older brothers were officers, placing him around law enforcement since a young age. Spending time around it all, “I knew it’s what I wanted,” described James.
In February of 2009, James joined the ranks of the Choctaw Nation Public Safety Department where he patrolled the areas of Wilburton, Talihina and Tushkahoma for the Choctaw Nation. He was notified of the opening for this position via his connection with tribal officer, John Hobbs. “I have always heard good things about the tribe, so I decided to apply,” said James.
With the tribe, aside from doing his usual patrol duties, he was assigned to serve as tribal sentinel at the monthly tribal council meeting. Upon his move to DARE officer, he has been helping with outreach activities, such as speaking at the annual event, Outreach at the Beach. He will continue to do various presentations in addition to his usual classes.
Along with his new title, James has also received another considerable change in his work environment. He is now the driver of the award winning tribal police Camaro, a car the demands attention wherever it goes. “You are the center of attention wherever you go… everybody wants a picture,” mentioned James. This particular car won an award for being the most outstanding car at the Oklahoma DARE Officer Association Car Show.
Being a police officer is highly important to James, but being a father is a duty that he claims above his profession. James is the proud husband of Jaclynne James, whom he met while in high school, and is the father of four children; three girls and a boy.
James holds much anticipation for the upcoming school year and his duties therein. James hopes to spread much knowledge and detour many away from negative situations in his time as the Choctaw Nation DARE Officer.