Before I became a School Resource Officer (SRO), I had heard of the Red Ribbon Campaign and the history behind it. However, it wasn’t until I began working directly with high school, middle school and grade school youth did I realize the importance and impact of the program. You see, Red Ribbon is not just about providing information. It’s about creating awareness, making positive decisions and understanding the consequences of at-risk behavior.
When I started working in the schools as an SRO, I found that the vast majority of students really cared about one another. They were at a point in their lives when they dreamed big, cared a lot and looked for leadership. However, sometimes that leadership could be misleading. This was a time in their lives when they would be introduced to risky behavior. As an SRO, I worked with high school students within their organizations, and I used the Red Ribbon program. My students identified the needs of our community and used the Red Ribbon program to get information out, promote making good decisions, provide tools to help students and work at building a positive and proactive student organization.
My students conducted Red Ribbon activities such as the Chain of Life, promoted awareness of stopping underage drinking, developed awareness for vehicle crashes with a car bash and reached out to the grade schools by having high school student role models presenting on how to make positive decisions. My students also attended programs such as the Kansas Youth Leadership Summit, Kansas Red Ribbon Training and Kansas SADD State Leadership Conference. All of these programs and trainings were provided by Kansas Family Partnership.
Years have gone by since I was a School Resource Officer, but I run into my former students (and ones which we had an impact on) who tell me that they have been drug free and share their positive life stories with me. Yes, some have told me that they have had issues in their lives, and yet they remembered our proactive trainings, which helped them make positive decisions.
To me, the Red Ribbon Campaign is about making healthy life choices and helping and educating others as well. One of the best ways I know to do this is not only to be a positive role model to others, but also to yourself.
Lieutenant Donald Roberson
Andover Police Department
Lieutenant Donald Roberson is a patrol commander and training coordinator for the Andover Police Department. During his 30+ years of law enforcement, he has worked as a School Resource Officer, DARE Officer and also assisted with SADD Chapters and Red Ribbon Campaigns within Andover Schools. Lt. Roberson has also spent many years working with Kansas Family Partnership, primarily with the Kansas Youth Leadership Summit.