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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The city's Public Safety Department announced Thursday it is eliminating the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, citing budget cuts and ineffective results.

An estimated 10,000 students in the Saratoga Springs School District have taken part in the D.A.R.E. program since its inception in 1989.

When the city adopted its 2010 budget, seven patrol officer positions were lost, and the public safety department began a review of all services and programs.

Part of that review process included meetings with Janice White, superintendent of the Saratoga Springs City School District, said Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth.

"We noticed there was a study done where 65 to 70 percent of departments around the country were eliminating the program and showed the ineffectiveness of the program to reduce teen drug and alcohol addiction," Wirth said.

Police officer Tony Straus, the department's D.A.R.E. instructor will be taken off D.A.R.E. detail and put back on patrol, Wirth said.

The amount of hours gained by that move was not known on Thursday, however.

"It's not a savings, per se; it's a reassigning of time," said Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins.

The D.A.R.E. automobile - a Toyota Camry that was donated by an area auto dealership in 2007 - will be returned to that dealership, Wirth said.

While the city's D.A.R.E. program will end at the conclusion of the school year in June, Wirth said a new program is being formulated with the possibility of having volunteer officers work with area youths.

"We're hoping to keep that connection as well," White said. "We don't have a formal plan yet, but we know there is willingness on the behalf of the police department to make a connection with our schools."

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