Safe Routes Scoop
Crossing Guards Rule the Road

needed to write a ticket. In the absence of a police officer, the crossing guard must record the license plate number, write out and swear to a probable cause complaint, and then go to court.

 

Although crossing guards usually do not have arrest powers, the “STOP” paddle they wield is an official sign under state law. Drivers who fail to obey the STOP paddle can be cited and fined for failure to obey signs, signals or directions (NJSA 39:4-215.) In addition, drivers who fail to obey a STOP paddle can be fined for failing to allow a pedestrian to complete a crossing while within a crosswalk (NJSA 39:4-34.) In August 2007, the minimum fine for failure to comply with a school crossing guard signal to stop was increased to $150 for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, the minimum fine is $300. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-80.1.)

 

Alexander uses the law to protect herself and the children she crosses. “If someone attempts to hit me or refuses to stop,” says Alexander, “I take out my camera phone or write down their license plate number and call it into dispatch.” She hopes this law will be rigorously enforced by local police departments and that, as a result, crossing guards get the respect and protection they deserve.

 

Recruitment Problems

In New Jersey’s largest cities, filling crossing guard positions can be

difficult. General drawbacks to the job such as limited work hours at inconvenient times of the day, exposure to varying and adverse weather conditions, and driver inattention and disrespect contribute to the recruitment problem.  Another issue has been a lack of qualified applicants. Although retirees often make the best candidates, health factors including vision and hearing loss due to aging may disqualify some. Also challenging is the fact that some trainees quit after only a few days of field training because of their fear of being hit by a car.

 

In some of New Jersey’s communities, it has been reported that some otherwise qualified applicants must be turned away due to a past criminal record that will not allow them to pass the stringent background check. In addition, many potential applicants often do not have reliable transportation, thus requiring that they be posted at an intersection near their home. When a crossing guard is reported absent, the police officers and schools cannot easily switch that guard to the vacant post.

 

Police Departments often rely on schools, churches and PTAs to help recruit workers. In Newark, parents, local organizations, and school and city officials work with the police to fill crossing guard positions. The One Newark Education Coalition identified 30 crossing guard posts that need to

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