Santa Barbara police Officer Anita Chamberlain was honored Monday in Sacramento as the 35th Assembly District Woman of the Year. Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, presented Chamberlain with a resolution at a ceremony in the Capitol.

“Anita Chamberlain represents hope, compassion and courage,” Nava said. “Her commitment to the community and its youth is admirable. She has touched many lives through her work as a police officer and volunteer for many different organizations. She is really making a difference.

“Santa Barbara is lucky to have her. I am honored to recognize her.”

Chamberlain’s current assignment is D.A.R.E. officer, teaching the Drug Abuse Resistance Education curriculum to fifth- and sixth-graders. The program not only teaches students about the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, but it addresses the consequences of gang violence and stresses the importance of good decision-making, and the consequences of gang violence, resisting peer pressure, making solid friendships and being a good citizen.

As SBPD‘s only D.A.R.E. officer, Chamberlain is responsible for teaching the curriculum at 13 schools and she currently teaches 17 classes a week — a workload that adds up to more than 850 D.A.R.E. graduates every year.  In January, the 2007 fall semester class graduated 447 students alone.

“We are very proud of Officer Chamberlain,” police Chief Cam Sanchez said in a statement. “The Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program used to consist of two officers sharing the responsibility of teaching positive alternatives to drugs and gangs to our fifth- and sixth-graders. Anita now has that tremendous responsibility herself!

“We are very fortunate to have Officer Chamberlain as our D.A.R.E. officer.”

In addition to her heavy D.A.R.E. class schedule, Chamberlain maintains contact with and interacts with her students by stopping by at lunchtime, playing sports at recess, participating in school jog-a-thons, frequently visiting sixth-grade outdoor camp, and attending various school functions on her own time.

Chamberlain is a 22-year veteran of the Santa Barbara Police Department. She started her career in 1985 as a civilian employee and became a full-fledged police officer in 1987.  She has worked in every SBPD division.

During her patrol career, she became an expert at handling domestic violence cases and sexual assault investigations. Her thorough investigations, coupled with her compassionate manner gained recognition from the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center and the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office and its Victim/Witness Office.

Chamberlain was a beat coordinator for four years and was the facilitator for SBPD’s Citizen Academy. She also has volunteered with Police Activities League programs for at-risk youth, chaperoned P.A.L. Youth Leadership Council trips and has been the advissr for the SBPD Explorer Post, a leadership program for high school students geared toward those considering a law-enforcement career.

An avid runner and triathlete, Chamberlain was the captain of SBPD’s Baker to Vegas Running Team, represented the department at the annual Summer Police Olympics, and frequently assists and participates in the Special Olympics Torch Run and local athletic events.

In 2005, Chamberlain was recognized by the Santa Barbara Optimists Club for her positive can-do attitude, dedication to her job, and for her personal work with a group of developmentally disabled adults who performed meaningful tasks and did work around the police station every week.