Sheriff Jimmy Abbett and resource officers Mittie Murry-Smith and Jason Cowart pose next to the new DARE car. | David D. Goodwin
Sheriff Jimmy Abbett and resource officers Mittie Murry-Smith and Jason Cowart pose next to the new DARE car. | David D. Goodwin

Archived Story

DARE car catches students’ attention

Published 7:23pm Monday, March 24, 2014

Depending on the angle, fans of one Tallapoosa County high school or the other might get upset at the Sheriff’s Department for taking sides with the new DARE Car.

The confiscated 2007 Dodge Charger, which was previously owned by a narcotics dealer in the county, shows Reeltown pride in deep blue on the passenger side. The driver’s side is decked out in red and blue of the Horseshoe Bend Generals. And it’s Dadeville down the middle, with the Tigers’ logo, paw prints and tail adorning the hood, roof and trunk.

“We’re using it as a symbol of what drugs can do to you if you get involved with them,” Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said. “We had some folks drive by when we unveiled it and said ‘we’re mad at you because you only got Horseshoe Bend.’ Then they saw the middle and said ‘oh you got Dadeville in, so you’re OK.’”

In addition to the proud colors and logos of all three high schools in the county school system, Abbett said, the car reminds students to say no to drugs, never text and drive and to oppose bullying of all types. The car’s license plate calls out its focus: OURKDZ, for “Our Kids,” Abbett said.

The two county school resource officers, Deputies Jason Cowart and Mittie Murry-Smith, said the car has been a great attention-getter and helped open doors to the message of the DARE program, Drug-Abuse Resistance Education.

“The kids absolutely love this car,” Cowart said. “They’ve been coming out between classes and taking pictures of it and posing with it, so it’s been a big key for us.”

Murry-Smith, the county’s newest resource officer, said it’s a great way to “get on their level and let them know that (law enforcement) isn’t just about arresting people.”

She added that being in the schools has been about more than just the students’ education.

“I can learn from them just as well as they can learn from me,” she said.

Abbett thanked the board of education and School Superintendent Joe Windle for their support of the school resource officer program.

“They want to protect our kids in school and make sure they’re safe there, so the board has helped us with the additional resources to hire (Deputy Murry-Smith),” Abbett said.

Abbett also thanked the Lake Martin Area United Way, which helped make the decked-out new DARE car possible and SignSource of Dadeville for making the department’s vision a reality.