Community Board 10 chairman John Marano has a plan to have Traffic Enforcement Agents fill in for School Crossing Guards if there is a gap in coverage.
Coming on the heels of an incident where a six-year-old boy was seriously injured at an intersection outside of Santa Maria School in Zerega, Marano said he is concerned about some schools not having crossing guards if they call out sick. This happened the day the child was struck.
To address this concern, Marano said he believes that the traffic agents, which like School Crossing Guards are part of the Police Department’s responsibilities, could fill in if a crossing guard could not be found for a particular school on a given day.
“I feel that all of our children are important,” he said. “If any crossing guard does go out sick, and a replacement is not available, every location should be a priority for the NYPD. Those locations, be they near a public or private school, should be covered at all times when students are crossing the street.”
Marano and CB 10 wrote a letter to the NYPD proposing the idea of having the TAs fill in if there is an absence of school crossing guards, and they are awaiting a response from the commissioner, he said.
If the traffic agents are going to be near the schools writing summonses, there is no reason that they cannot take three or so hours out of their day and act as crossing guards for school children, he added.
As far as concerns of parents may have of stopping to pick up children, Marano has an answer too. He is a former police officer and remembers that he had discretion in writing tickets.
“Traffic agent have have discretion too, though they are not often told that they do,” he said.
Traffic agents respond
Robert Cassar, president of Local 1182 of the Communication Workers of America, which represents NYC’s Traffic Agents, said he would be willing to take a look at Marano’s plan and offer feedback and ideas.
“I have been doing this along time, so I am not going to just blow anyone off,” he said. “Let me send his proposal and we’ll will look it over.”
But upon hearing of the idea, he said that the TAs job “is challenging as it is,” and that many agents are already working at directing traffic at intersections. His members are overburdened, he said.
He also feels that more school crossing guards need to be hired if there is a shortage.
Representatives of Local 372 of District Council 37, which represents school crossing guards, were also called. They did not comment as of press time.