Craighead County Sheriff's Deputy Terry McNatt gets to drive the state's winning vehicle. The county's DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) vehicle recently won first place in the Arkansas DARE Officers Association Custom Vehicle Competition.
Sheriff McNatt has been serving as the DARE officer in Craighead County for 16 years and said the green vehicle with the DARE symbol is an eye-catcher and brings attention to the program when the students see it out and about the county.
McNatt works in the county schools outside of the Jonesboro city limits which include Bay, Brookland, Lake City, Caraway, Monette, Leachville and Westside. He said many of the students he works with are a little nervous at first but the car is a great ice breaker.
"The kids love it," he said.
McNatt worked with Larry Gibson of Gibson's Sign Mart to develop the over-all design. He wanted the DARE mascot, a lion named Daren, and the Craighead County Sheriff's badge included. The design is specific for the area he works.
Any department with customized vehicles throughout the state can compete in the annual competition.
The first DARE vehicle Craighead County won with was a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer. The second was a Chevrolet Avalanche. McNatt said he was pleased to win the award for the third time. In addition to the vehicles being state winners Deputy McNatt was named Arkansas Officer of the Year in 1997-1998.
McNatt enjoys working with the young students throughout the county.
McNatt said the program has been blessed with great sponsors for the DARE program.
McNatt works on his continuing credit obligations and works with children at fishing derbies, organized runs and day care centers during the summer months.
McNatt takes his role as DARE Officer seriously and wants to reach as many young people as he can. He wants to make children and parents aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
McNatt said there is a big problem with prescription drugs. Parents think their medicine cabinet is a safe place but too many times it is open and available to children.
"There is much more education needed," McNatt said. "I hope to continue in the DARE program as long as the Lord lets me."