I don't know how many young lives former Quincy Police Officer Theotis Moore touched. If anyone could count them it would, I'm sure, number in the thousands. Moore, before he retired 2 years ago, was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer. He travelled throughout the county from school to school and gathering to gathering in his white van with the big red DARE letters on the side. The message he carried was don't use drugs, stay away from gangs and stay in school.
Moore died Feb. 8 but if ever there was a man who loved his job, it was Moore. He once told me that his heart swelled with pride as an officer because children ran up to him and hugged him wherever they saw him. Whether it was at school or the grocery store, they wanted to touch the DARE officer.
DARE is an international education program that works to prevent the use of illegal drugs, gang membership and violent behavior among school age children. In order to participate in the program students must sign a pledge that they will not use drugs or join gangs. The program was started by two officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, which is a far cry from little Quincy. But Moore understood that we have the same problems – just on a smaller scale.
Moore spent most of his time with the QPD spreading the message to local children that drugs, gangs and violent behavior are counter-productive to success as adults. Being the DARE officer was his job but he went above and beyond what was required of him.
A few years ago an organization to which I belong held a Sunday afternoon back to school cookout for a group of young ladies we were mentoring at the time. I called Officer Moore (he's my cousin and that's really not what I call him) and asked him for some materials we could distribute among the girls. He said I could come by the station Friday afternoon and pick up the pamphlets and pencils, erasers and a few other things he usually gave to students.
He asked my how many kids were going to be there and I said between 15 and 20. He volunteered to bring his entire setup to the cookout, make a presentation and be available to answer questions. Of course it was a big hit among the girls and they wanted him back each year. That's the kind of DARE officer he was and that was the kind of man he was about his job.
Growing up we always called him "Thee," like a lot of people here. He and my brother, Carl, were classmates and friends. His brother, Charles, was classmates with my brother, Sterling, and his sister, Madeline, was classmates with my brother, Wallace. Their father, Richard, was my father's great-nephew.
Family relationships aside, he was a professional law enforcement officer who found his calling in helping to shape the lives of Gadsden County's most precious commodity, our children. He talked sometimes about the kids who, as adults, have thanked him for the positive role he played in their lives and he was as grateful to them as they were to him.
As a citizen of the world Moore did what he was required to do and that is to leave this world a better place for having walked on earth. We should all thank Moore and the officers like him who continue to make our community a better place.
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