Bath police officers teach a L.E.A.D. class at Bath Middle School on March 28. Courtesy of L.E.A.D.

In the final week of March, Bath quietly launched a new police-lead drug abuse education curriculum after years without such a program.

Bath’s police department and schools implemented the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D.) program last week to 260 students in Dike Newell, Fisher Mitchell and Bath Middle schools. The new curriculum, which targets second-, fourth- and sixth-grade students, teaches life skills such as managing emotions without the use of substances and making good decisions. The students participating in the program will work with six Bath police officers over 10 weeks this spring.

For Deputy Chief Michelle Small, the program seemed like a great opportunity to rekindle community outreach in schools.

“The partnership you can build between an officer and a student — that in itself was priceless,” Small said. “For years we’ve missed that.”

L.E.A.D., founded in 2014, aims to bring law enforcement and local communities together by offering age-appropriate life lessons shared by certified police officers. Though each curriculum only requires one instructor, Bath officers Devon Hook, Chuck Reece, Brett McIntire, Nick Green and Arthur Tringali all volunteered to come teach in the schools alongside Small.

“The community is our family, and that’s how a lot of the officers see it here,” Small said.


In a March 28 class at Bath Middle School, math teacher Jeffrey Bickford’s sixth-grade students sat through a L.E.A.D. class focused on goal setting.

Hook, Small, Reece and Tringali led the scripted lesson as children enthusiastically raised hands, called out answers and competed in games that incorporated goal-setting steps. At the end of the lesson, students took home an ungraded homework assignment that encouraged them to talk about what they learned with a guardian at home.

According to Bickford, the program allows students to familiarize themselves with Bath police before they enroll in Morse High School, where Reece works as a student resource officer.

“This program, overall, offers an opportunity for students to connect with local law enforcement,” Bickford said. “It’s really good that the kids see the officers in school.”

L.E.A.D. programs can be found in 45 states, including Maine, which has 12 law enforcement agencies running the program.

The new program follows the nationwide D.A.R.E. program that Bath and other American cities participated in during the 2000s. D.A.R.E., which was founded in 1983 at the height of the crack epidemic, was not proven to prevent drug use among students, according to the American Addiction Centers.

Since 2020, drug use among teens has declined, according to a 2023 report released by the National Institute of Health. However, the NIH report noted that teen overdose deaths have risen dramatically as drug use becomes more dangerous, due in part to fentanyl contamination.

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