Crossing guard policy reviewed

04/07/2014 3:30 PM

04/07/2014 3:31 PM

City leaders are looking at how Raleigh police allocate their limited number of school crossing guards after concerns that a dangerous intersection near Douglas Elementary School has been left unmanned.

North Raleigh City Councilman Wayne Maiorano has been looking into complaints at Douglas that police removed a crossing guard post at Ortega Road and Windsor Place. He says parents, teachers and administrators report speeding cars and poor visibility that pose safety risks for kids.

“At this very stop sign, I almost got hit,” Maiorano said.

The police department had dropped the guard because the Ortega Road/Windsor Place intersection because of “very low pedestrian activity,” according to a report. The department has a scoring system to rank the most critical intersections near schools. Raleigh police employ 12 guards who handle a total of 20 locations.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said the city’s scoring system didn’t consider some of the issues near Douglas. “There’s extenuating circumstances here,” she said. “There’s poor sight lines on one of the streets. That contributes to problems that a walk score can’t capture.”

But Councilman Eugene Weeks said the city should treat each request equally – including a request he made two years ago for a crossing guard at Walnut Creek Elementary in his Southeast Raleigh district.

“I see no rationale why this area is considered, but with the one I brought up two years ago, nobody wanted to have a discussion,” he said. “There’s a railroad track between where we give the safety to those kids and where we do not give it them. ... We don’t need to wait until a kid gets hit.”

Weeks’ comments prompted the council to take a citywide look at the crossing guard policy before approving one at Douglas. The scoring criteria will get a closer look in the council’s law and public safety committee.

Maiorano said the council also needs to decide “whether to dedicate more resources and dollars” to lower the bar for which schools get crossing guards. At Douglas, Maiorano said, teachers are sometimes filling in as crossing guards to get kids home safely – a practice Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown says needs to stop.

“It is a dangerous, in my opinion, decision and a huge liability from a school’s standpoint to allow a teacher without any training to do that function,” Deck-Brown said.

The chief said she supports the city’s scoring criteria, which was established to address a “lack of objectivity” in determining who got a crossing guard.

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