A recalculation of how much money Independence received from a Jackson County anti-drug sales tax to fund the D.A.R.E. program prompted the Independence Police Department to make changes in staffing the program.

A recalculation of how much money Independence received from a Jackson County anti-drug sales tax to fund the D.A.R.E. program prompted the Independence Police Department to make changes in staffing the program.

The police department each year gets money from COMBAT (countywide anti-drug sales tax) to fund D.A.R.E. or Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

County officials and officials representing law enforcement jurisdictions met to discuss how COMBAT money would be used for D.A.R.E. The result was a reconfiguration on how the tax money was distributed.

Now, departments will be paid by the number of students it teaches the program.

Smaller cities, for example, were getting less money per student to teach the same course bigger jurisdictions were getting. “That’s not fair,” said IPD Maj. Greg Wilkinson, who worked on the issue with Jackson County.

The recalculation hurt Independence and Kansas City because they were a larger amount of money per student. “But we did this because we thought it was fair,” he said.

An advantage of the reconfiguration was that now the department knows how much money in the future will be designated for D.A.R.E.

The reduction in money forced the department to rework its budget when designating money for D.A.R.E.

Funding will pay for two D.A.R.E. officers for this school year. The department had to cut two D.A.R.E. officers. No officers were lost, just reassigned, Wilkinson said.

One officer reassigned was a sergeant who oversaw the D.A.R.E. officers. He was placed in uniform patrol and took over for a retiring sergeant.

The second position was a D.A.R.E. officer who was placed in uniform patrol, Wilkinson said.

To compensate for the losses, school resource officers in the middle schools will now teach D.A.R.E. classes. The resource officers were trained to teach D.A.R.E.

Wilkinson said the program will not affect the way D.A.R.E. will be taught.

The two full-time D.A.R.E. officers will teach in the elementary schools.

“We really have leaned out the program,” Wilkinson said.

Years ago, IPD had seven D.A.R.E. officers. COMBAT never paid all their salaries. As years went by, the department trained school resource officers whose job is to provide a safe environment for high school and middle school students, Wilkinson said.

With the emergence of SROs, the department began cutting back on D.A.R.E. officers.

“There was more pressure to have more officers on the street,” Wilkinson said.

D.A.R.E. will be taught to 2,396 students in 28 schools in Independence, with most of those schools being in the Independence School District.

Wilkinson did not know the amount of COMBAT money IPD lost from the distribution changes.

A Jackson County spokesman did not know the figure either. But a police official said it was more than $170,000.

Dan Ferguson, a county spokesman, said the officers were not cut because of cuts in COMBAT funding.

“Like any other sales tax right now, they’re not doing really great because of the economic conditions,” Ferguson said.

He said all the cities involved in the meeting agreed that the recalculation “was the best way to handle this situation.”