by Lisa Tome
Master Police Officer Stephen McKinney wasn't interested when he was initially offered the chance to teach DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).
Two years into it, the Rising Sun officer is hooked.
"DARE is positive. After I did the DARE training, it significantly changed my thinking," said McKinney, who began teaching students at Rising Sun Middle in the fall of 2013.
McKinney, who has worked for the town for eight years, is a retired Cecil Sheriff's Deputy. He has also served as a federal police officer and as a military police officer. Teaching children was a whole new experience.
"DARE is not worried about the stats - the tickets you write. It's teaching kids to make good decisions and good life choices," said McKinney. "If one child learns something from DARE, you've already made an impact. Maybe sometime somebody will think about what Officer Mac said."
And although he was initially a reluctant instructor, McKinney has done well. He recently received a commendation letter from Regional DARE Coordinator Lindy Hall Fraddosion. She reviews DARE officer performance. He teaches about 240 students per year.
"His (McKinney's) knowledge of his lessons coupled with his professionalism and rapport of the students make him an asset to the DARE program and an exemplary representative of your department ... I wish all of Maryland's DARE officers were as prepared and knowledgeable as he...his quiet enthusiasm and energy level shows he cares for his students and the DARE program."
McKinney has proven to not only be a good student, he's also a good teacher. On both the required recertification tests, he scored 100 percent.
"I like doing it. It's one of the more enjoyable aspects of my job. I do a graduation program and hand out diplomas," added McKinney.