If you have a fifth-grader in the Parkland School District, chances are he or she knows South Whitehall Police Officer David Keck.
Officer Keck is the new Youth Services/D.A.R.E. officer and three-days-a-week he meets with fifth graders to teach them conflict resolution, decision-making skills and drug awareness.
"My goal is to make a difference and try to get through to kids, not just about drugs, but about how they can handle situations," Keck said. "I stress conflict resolution skills."
He reaches more than 700 fifth graders from the eight Parkland elementary schools every school year, including the Jaindl elementary and Fogelsville elementary schools in Upper Macungie. When he isn't teaching D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Keck is the Youth Services officer in the South Whitehall police department in charge of all cases involving children under 18.
The D.A.R.E. program is administered to fifth graders because it's their last year of elementary school. The skills are meant to help kids cope with drugs, conflict and tough decisions as they mature into teenagers.
Keck has a bachelor's in criminal justice from Shippensburg University. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in 1985 and started as an officer in South Whitehall soon after.
He was certified to teach D.A.R.E. in 1999 and has been helping for the past seven years. As far as making a lasting impression, Keck said he knows he must get through to some because kids will stop to say hi - even when he is out of uniform.
Keck replaces Officer Keith Heffelfinger, who retired as D.A.R.E. officer this summer.