Whenever children he's taught introduce him to their parents, Paramus Police Detective Lt. James Teehan knows he’s gotten through.
It gives him “an immense amount of pride,” said Teehan, who was honored by Law Enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D.), a national nonprofit organization committed to protecting children from the risks of drugs and bullying.
“I notice that students like to acknowledge the interaction they had with us when they get older,” he said. “It’s evident that the joy L.E.A.D. has brought them passes on to their parents when we convene with them at community events.”
Teehan teaches a 10-week program for fifth graders – “Too Good for Drugs” – at the East and West Brook middle schools in Paramus.
COVID-19 required him to conduct the recent session online.
“Even though we were happy to have any interaction at all this year, teaching the L.E.A.D. curriculum in a new, virtual way really made us appreciate being able to teach in person even more,” the lieutenant said.
Law enforcement’s traditional role in the fight against drug abuse has primarily involved catching and prosecuting offenders.
L.E.A.D. adds an element of education, filling the gap left by the demise of the D.A.R.E. program.
Organizers say L.E.A.D. – which operates in 33 states -- is the only charitable law enforcement-related organization utilizing K-12 curricula that has proved effective in addressing the perils and consequences of using tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or illegal drugs.
The officers who work the program hope to become role models while building trusting and supportive relationships with youngsters and their families.
Communication, confidence, assertiveness, refusal strategies and other resistance skills are discussed and practiced in role-play exercises.
They also discuss the development of positive friendships, peer pressure and "the art of avoiding risky situations," while examining the role of self-pressure in decision-making exercises."
The added benefit, of course, is having armed, trained policy officers protecting the children.
Teehan was nominated by L.E.A.D. Executive Director and CEO Nick DeMauro, who cited the 26-year veteran's “tremendous dedication toward going above and beyond to help children remain drug- and violence-free.”It was his second selection for the officer of the year honor in the past four years.
“This year was a challenge for everyone,” DeMauro said, “and we commend Lt. Teehan, as well as the other Paramus L.E.A.D. instructors, on their ability to successfully help students complete L.E.A.D. programs remotely.”
Now, more than ever, the positive relationships developed through the program are critical to maintaining a safe, civil society, organizers and participants say
“In today’s climate, especially, it’s great to be able to have open dialogue on the daily lives that we lead as officers with our students,” Teehan said.
MORE INFO: www.leadrugs.org
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