SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As he speaks to a group of fifth-graders at Claiborne Fundamental Elementary Magnet School, Corporal David Bonillas seems to be a natural fit as a D.A.R.E. instructor.
“It’s very rewarding to educate these kids that what they are feeling is natural,” said Corporal Bonillas.
The 16-year veteran of the Shreveport Police Department teaches D.A.R.E. at eight different schools in Caddo Parish. It’s a role he loves, after stints working downtown patrol and homicide.
“I didn’t get a chance to go through the D.A.R.E. program when I was in school. And I grew up in an era where your parents didn’t do a whole lot of talking to you about the things that we talk about in DARE, like stress, peer pressure, communication,” said Bonillas. “And that everybody feels stress and peer pressure, and those type of things.”
He’s sharing and teaching life lessons extending far beyond the classroom.
“School teaches you and prepares you for the real world and getting a job,” he said. “I’m teaching them to be responsible. Teaching them that you have to communicate.”
Educating kids and helping them understand a new skill set, it’s something Corporal Bonillas does every day. So it’s no surprise that he’s taken to another endeavor quite well: coaching.
For the past three years, he has been the head girl’s basketball coach at Caddo Middle Magnet.
The squad is a club team, so he’s not paid. He volunteers his time while coordinating team tryouts, practices, games, and even paying out of his own pocket so the girls have access to a home gym.
He coaches his daughter, Kali, and 13 other girls. All recognize the impact he is having.
“I love the fun we get to have as a team. The teamwork. And how much we’ve come together as a team. And play good on the court,” said Caddo Middle Magnet basketball player Christaoyn Blake. “You really can’t tell that he is a police officer. He kinda separates it, so you don’t really know.”
But they do know, besides basketball, what they are learning.
“Self respect and confident,” said Blake. “He’s very influencing.”
Bonillas embraces the role.
“You’re getting a chance to mold them and speak to them about things in life.”
A corporal. A coach. Teaching the game of life.
“As a police officer we all have that sense of serving the community, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We definitely don’t do it for the pay,” he said. “We do it because we like helping people. That’s why we sign up for the job.”