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Drug Prevention Program Leaves Lasting Impression on Middle School Students

LOOMIS -- This isn't your typical field trip -- K9 demonstrations, hopping on a SWAT vehicle, even a helicopter.

"Get the kids used to being around all these deputies, and they can see them in these fun capacities," said Dena Erwin with the Placer County Sheriff's Office.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is showing off their line of work to more than 700 students at Loomis Grammar School.

But it’s the seventh and eighth graders who are in for a dose of reality.

This is part of a drug prevention, education and awareness program called “The Right Choice."

Everyone from doctors to firefighters to a Placer County court judge have volunteered their day to demonstrate the consequences of prescription drug abuse in an unforgettable way.

"The DARE program has been defunded here, so we don't have that program anymore. We have school resource officers in the school. So this is a chance for us to have a big impact on the kids," Erwin said.

Then the role play begins. A sheriff's deputy finds drugs on a pre-selected student. Then he's taken away in cuffs.

His classmates follow him through the arrest process, then off to his court appearance.

"Trust me, 12-year-olds are not that rare in juvenile court. They come in 12, 13, 14. Right there, we're starting to see them. And this is one of the most common crimes we're seeing. Possession of a controlled substance," said Placer County Superior Court Judge Mark Curry.

He gets out of juvenile hall, but not for long.

After drug counseling, the student's habits get worse.

"He goes to a party, ends up overdosing, goes to the emergency room, where his parents are present. And then he passes away, then there is a funeral," Erwin said.

The sheriff’s office partners up with other emergency responders twice a year to have this full day demonstration.

They do them a few weeks before the start of summer break to remind students to resist peer pressure even when they are on vacation.

"They'll see one of their classmates in this very position, where they say, 'maybe this can happen to me.' It has been impactful across the country, we found out," Erwin said.

Many kids leave the role play in shock or in tears. A sign that this demonstration is leaving a lasting impression on students.