Nixon is in his fourth year as the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer for the Grand County program, which is taught to sixth-graders at Helen M. Knight Elementary School. He said he was “surprised” when he learned he had received the statewide award for, as he put it, “just doing my job.”
“They give two a year and it’s statewide. So it’s always an honor,” Nixon said. “But I don’t feel like [being the DARE officer] is work.”
In his letter nominating Nixon for the award, Moab Police Chief Mike Navarre praised Nixon’s dedication to the Moab community and his ability to form bonds with the DARE students.
“His DARE officer status allows him to involve himself in all types of community activities which affect our children in a positive way,” Navarre wrote.
HMK fourth- through sixth-grade principal Taryn Kay also submitted a letter nominating Nixon. She cited his positive interactions with students and his dedication to building relationships as primary reasons for the nomination.
“Officer Nixon does all of the things an excellent DARE officer should do ... He is well liked and respected by both students and teachers,” Kay wrote. “The best thing about [Nixon] is the time and effort he spends building relationships ... Because of this effort, Officer Nixon has been able to work with students as they get older to help them avoid making poor choices that may have ended up in criminal behavior had his relationship with them not existed.”
The DARE program, which is in its 23rd year in Grand County, is a collaborative effort between the city police, the Grand County Sheriff’s Department, parents, teachers and HMK administrators. Each year, the program is taught by one city police officer and one Grand County deputy. Approximately 150 sixth-grade students attend DARE classes each year, Navarre said. Those who attend must have written permission from their parents to participate, he said.
Nixon said DARE, which is a national program that aims to prevent drug use, bullying, gang membership and violent behavior among students, depends on honesty between the officers and the kids.
“We commit at the first sessions of DARE each year that we will always answer all questions regardless of what they are ...” he said. “We talk about alcohol, tobacco, drugs, bullying and the effects of all those. I’m pretty open and straight-forward with the kids.”
He said his bond with many of the students continues long after they move on to middle school and high school.