Shelter Island Police Officer Anthony Rando has completed a two-week training course in Watkins Glen, New York, and started his stint as the department’s D.A.R.E. officer this month, succeeding Walter Richards, who retired from the force last spring.
The D.A.R.E. program, begun in 1983 in Los Angeles and retains its main theme — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — dealing with avoidance of drugs, gangs and violence. But it has expanded its scope to help students make better decisions in all aspects of their lives through improved communications with their peers, parents and teachers.
On Shelter Island, the D.A.R.E. program is offered to students in grade five and seven, largely because from the outset, the elementary program was geared to those grades.
But other districts have D.A.R.E. programs for students in kindergarten through grade four; middle school; and high school.
Each is geared to the appropriate age group and level of sophistication.
“It’s a chance to interact with the community and children of the community,” Officer Rando said about his request to replace Mr. Richards as the D.A.R.E. officer.
The father of three — Anthony Jr., 3; Vincent, 2; and Sebastian, 1 — Officer Rando loves children and welcomed the opportunity to teach the program to Island students, he said.
While his responsibilities sometimes coincide with his on-duty hours, at other times, he works a night shift, but is glad to offer his own time to teach the D.A.R.E. sessions during the day.
That he has learned his own lesson in communication is clear as he talks about his wife, Lindsay, saying, “She’s got the harder job. The former school aide is a stay-at-home mom these days meeting the needs of the couple’s three children.
Officer Rando is a 2006 Shelter Island High School graduate who went on to study business management at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
But he always knew he wanted to be a police officer and wanted to return to Shelter Island to pursue that career. He joined the force in October 2010.
His single lesson with students so far was mostly an introductory session with fifth graders who seemed very attentive, Officer Rando said.
But he’s already looking ahead with the hope of eventually adding community forums to involve parents, teachers and police in identifying potential issues that could be addressed through the D.A.R.E. program.
His hope is that by learning to make good decisions on minor issues, students will learn to apply the techniques to major issues such as resisting pressure to use drugs or become involved in violent behavior.
During his two weeks in Watkins Glen, Officer Rando was reunited with another Islander, Officer Brian Mundy, who is a member of the York Town Police Department.
Officer Mundy is also a Shelter Island High School graduate who joined the Yorktown force in June 2006. He worked as a patrol officer answering calls for service until August 2008 when he was assigned as that department’s school resource officer at the Mildred E. Strang Middle School.
His responsibilities included coordinating lockdown and lockout school safety procedures and teaching students ways of handling cyberbullying as well as how to resist drug and alcohol abuse.
As a certified general topics instructor , he has received rave reviews from within his department and the community, according to his Chief of Police, Robert Noble.
Chief Noble called him “a valued member of the Yorktown Police Department” and the community in Yorkville.