Crossing Guards, Illegal in Albemarle County?

In a stunning move by the County, we’ve recently been notified that the elementary school will discontinue crossing guard services. The Albemarle County Police Department says that it is illegal for anyone other than a uniformed police officer to direct traffic.

I haven’t been this riled up since my neighbor tried to weed my garden.

The crossing guard is a time honored icon. Where will the frame of reference for all those cold medicine and soup commercials go, if we lose our crossing guards nationwide? Who else will wear day-glo orange and assert an authoritative presence outside our neighborhood schools? We chose our home, in part, because it is close — within walking distance — of the elementary and middle school. This seemed like a huge plus to us. Walking is healthy! Now, though, because of the discontinuation of the crossing guards, the schools are providing bus services for all walkers, meaning the girl will now walk about seven houses down the street to catch a bus that will drive her across a street and into a parking lot. What’s this all-bus policy going to do for the obesity problem? As fewer and fewer kids walk, ride bikes or scooter to school, will they become more and more sedentary?

Surely it would be more cost-effective to place an officer there as a crossing guard, instead of providing buses to the hundred or so kids that live close enough to walk to school. Surely they could deputize a few parents and teachers to be uniformed, official, legal crossing guards. Surely they don’t expect my kid to take a bus one block rather than walk.

The kids themselves are appalled. Raised as little eco-sensitive creatures, the additional pollution and energy waste of an unnecessary bus route breaks their little green hearts.

I did a little research this evening (which means a friend of mine called her brother who is a cop) to find out what crime I might be charged with (hypothetically) were I to help schoolchildren cross the street come Monday, when this all goes into effect. The brother (not an Albemarle officer) said the offense would be “obstruction of traffic” and probably ticketable. If a person were to persist, then he or she could be arrested.

Interesting.

Time to pick out an outfit that will stop traffic for Monday.

**Update: Want your kids to be able to walk to school safely?

Contact:

Del. Rob Bell
58th District
2 Boars Head Place #100
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Local Office: (434) 245-8900
Richmond Office: (804) 698-1058
E-mail: delegaterobbell@aol.com

About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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7 Responses to Crossing Guards, Illegal in Albemarle County?

  1. Lisa says:

    Marijean – A very well written and humorous piece on something far from humorous.

    We have been told that we need to contact Rob Bell to get anything done about this. The thought of dealing with politicians and the state legislature over something like this is a bit ridiculous – but this entire thing is ridiculous.

    We will be with you on Monday morning – dressed in our finest traffic stopping attire. I’ll take my chances on the ticket (or more).

  2. TrvlnMn says:

    The Albemarle County Police Department says that it is illegal for anyone other than a uniformed police officer to direct traffic.

    […]

    Surely it would be more cost-effective to place an officer there as a crossing guard, instead of providing buses to the hundred or so kids that live close enough to walk to school.

    Generally I would think it would be more expensive for a cop to do the job. But that could be what this is about. If the next thing that happens is that off duty cops are recruited to do this job- and get paid extra for it- well then we will know for sure that’s what this is about.

    If someone has to direct traffic in Boston (construction flag man, etc.)- it’s gotta be an off duty cop and since he’s off duty you have to pay extra (double or triple time). Up there it’s a legal shakedown.

  3. Pingback: STLWorkingMom » Blog Archive » Schools Closed due to Snow and Ice

  4. Danielle says:

    Interesting — especially because my sister is a crossing gaurd in Park City, Utah — but technically she is employed by the police department.

    Let me know how it goes.

    D-

  5. I cannot find anything about crossing guards in either state or county law. If something did need to be done legislatively, the window for that is fast closing. You’ve got about a week to get a bill into the General Assembly, or you’ll have to wait until next year.

  6. Pingback: STLWorkingMom » Blog Archive » No More Crossing Guards in Albemarle County

  7. Lisa says:

    After doing some minor research, this is what I found in the Virginia code that may be of interest:

    Title 46.2. MOTOR VEHICLES

    Chapter 13. Powers of Local Governments

    Current through 2006 Legislative Session

    § 46.2-1309. Officers may direct traffic; signals.

    Law-enforcement officers and uniformed school crossing guards may direct traffic by signals. Such signals other than by voice shall be as follows:

    1. To stop traffic by hand. – Stand with shoulders parallel to moving traffic. Raise arms forty-five degrees above shoulder with hand extended, palm towards moving traffic to be stopped.

    2. To move traffic by hand. – Stand with shoulders parallel to traffic to be moved. Extend right arm and hand full length at height of shoulders towards such traffic, fingers extended and joined, palm down. Bring hand sharply in direction traffic is to move. Repeat movement with left arm and hand to start traffic from opposite direction.

    3. To stop and start traffic by whistle. – One blast, moving traffic to stop; two blasts, traffic in opposite direction to move.

    4. Emergency stop of traffic by whistle. – Three or more short blasts, all traffic shall immediately clear the intersection and stop.

    Such law-enforcement officers and uniformed school crossing guards may also use supplemental traffic direction devices, including but not limited to hand-held stop or go signs, in directing traffic as provided in this section.

    History. (Code 1950, § § 46-201, 46-202; 1954, c. 380; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-183; 1966, c. 607; 1989, c. 727; 1995, c. 473.)
    ___________________________________________________

    Title 46.2. MOTOR VEHICLES

    Chapter 13. Powers of Local Governments

    Current through 2006 Legislative Session

    § 46.2-1310. Authority to deputize persons to direct traffic in certain circumstances.

    The chief of police of any county, city, or town, or the sheriff of any county which does not have a chief of police, may deputize persons over the age of eighteen years for the limited purpose of directing traffic in accordance with § 46.2-1309 during periods of heavy traffic or congestion. Such persons shall first receive training as the chief of police or sheriff determines necessary to fully acquaint such persons with the techniques of traffic control. They shall not have arrest powers.

    Any person who is deputized as provided in the foregoing provisions of this section, shall at all times while engaged in traffic control wear a distinctive uniform, safety vest, or a white reflectorized belt which crosses both the chest and back above the waist.

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