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Burbank: “Help us send a message to your peers of the dangers of drug abuse”

SALT LAKE CITY — Against the backdrop of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s seventh annual Student Art and Scholarship Contest, Chief Burbank uses his February video message to talk about the state of drug and alcohol abuse among teens with School Resource Officer Doug Teerlink.

A Salt Lake City police officer for 14 years, including several as a narcotics officer, Teerlink currently is assigned as the School Resource Officer (SRO) at Horizonte. He tells Chief Burbank that he and other SROs hear from students across the city that marijuana must not be so bad if it’s being legalized.

“You talk to the kids and with everything that’s going on with it [marijuana] being legalized in Colorado and comments that have been made about, ‘it’s just not that bad for you,’ the kids have taken that one step farther and they’re telling me, ‘oh, it’s just an herb, it’s OK. In fact, it’s used for medical purposes, it’s good for you; it’s not bad for you.’

“And that’s the belief that our kids are getting,” Teerlink says, “so we need to counteract that as much as we can with parents talking to their kids, and with teachers talking to the students, and we as police officers, any time we can talk to the kids and say, ‘hey whatever you’re hearing, whatever you think you’re hearing, this is not good for you. This has potential to destroy your future.’”

Burbank and Teerlink go on to discuss other drug use trends among teens, including spice and prescription drugs. Burbank says, in general, “deaths from prescription overdoses that are the result of inappropriate use of those prescriptions has actually outpaced traffic deaths” in recent years.

SLCPD is in the seventh year of its Student Art Contest, which was designed to create a way for School Resource Officers to proactively talk about drug and alcohol use and abuse with teens. The department offers a $2,500 college scholarship and other prizes to top entries.

Teerlink says he and other SROs in the Salt Lake City School District are visiting classes to talk up the contest and talk about the underlying issues. “It’s amazing, once you open that conversation, how open these kids are,” he says. “They’ll tell you what they’ve used, they’ll tell you what their friends are using, they’ll tell you all of their thoughts and explain it to you.”

The Student Art Contest gives SROs the opportunity to be part of a discussion that’s happening everyday in schools, Burbank says, whether or not adults approve. “I think the direction really is, have an open discussion because your children are having an open discussion in school with their peers,” he adds.

Burbank ends the video with a direct appeal to students to participate in the Student Art Contest, the winning entry of which will be used to create the department’s next public awareness campaign: “Help us send a message to your peers of the dangers of drug abuse.”

Watch the full video online at or

About the “Chief’s Message”
Chief Burbank issues a monthly video message to help the public reduce its exposure to, or mitigate the effects of, crime, as well as spotlight different parts of the city’s public safety team. All “Chief’s Messages” are archived on the newsroom page of and the “Chief’s Message” playlist of To recommend a topic to Chief Burbank, please send an email to: