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Paducah Police D.A.R.E. Officers Utilize Social Media To Maintain Student Connection

Screenshot from Paducah Police Department Kentucky Facebook Page

A western Kentucky police department’s officers have taken to social media in an effort to keep in touch with their community’s youth. Paducah Police Department (PPD) shared its first video Friday, with a promise of more to come “every few days.”

Robin Newberry with PPD said the idea came from Community Resource Officer Gretchen Morgan who was up late one evening last week contemplating the implications of social distancing and working from home. 

“It’s important to make sure we continue to build relationships with our students no matter if at home or at school,” Morgan said. “By reading to them, we can do that.” 

Officer Ryan Hudson who teaches D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) at McNabb Elementary School is featured in the first video shared on the ‘Paducah Police Department Kentucky’ Facebook Page. He reads, ‘If You Give a Dog a Donut,’ by Laura Numeroff. 

Newberry said Hudson misses the 60 students participating in his course now that the schools are closed, which is why he wanted to participate in the initiative. 

“I miss being able to connect with them and see how their week is going. (I miss) trying to give them positive advice and positive affirmation ... helping them figure out who they want to be in this world,” Hudson said. “I felt this was an important thing to do because with all the headlines in the news currently, I thought it would ... help ease peoples’ minds and spirits, and help them be able to unplug and realize that family and community is important. Sometimes we lose sight of that.”

Newberry said every few days, the department is posting a video on its Facebook page, featuring an officer reading a book or teaching a “lesson” to the children of Paducah and McCracken County. 

Newberry said Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird was fully supportive of the idea because he realizes the importance of officers’ continued contact with the community’s children. 

“Whatever we can do to stay in contact with these kids and keep them engaged in their schoolwork, we are happy to do. We hope by reading to them, they will learn to explore their world through books and continue to be eager learners,” he said. “This is another excellent example of officer-led initiatives developed from within the ranks of the department. This is leadership at its finest.” 

The next video is scheduled for later this week featuring Officer Jarrett Woodruff, who teaches D.A.R.E. at St. Mary and Clark elementary schools.

Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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