Lawmakers ask NYPD for more school crossing guards

Williamsburg-Greenpoint area in dire need, pols say

February 3, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
North Brooklyn lawmakers say schools in Williamsburg and Greenpoint could use more crossing guards. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
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Neighborhoods like Greenpoint and Williamsburg have blossomed over the past decade into trendy, desirable places to live. But there is a price to be paid for trendiness, according to three local elected officials, who said the fact that more people are moving in has translated into streets crowded with pedestrians, cars and bicyclists.

And that has led to a potential danger for children walking to and from school, said state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joseph Lentol and Councilmember Stephen Levin, all of whom represent parts of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

The lawmakers have come up with an idea for a solution: more school crossing guards.

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Squadron, Lentol and Levin have written a letter to Police Commissioner James O’Neill requesting that the NYPD assign additional crossing guards to schools within the 94th Precinct, which covers much of North Brooklyn.

A sharp increase in the area’s overall population, coupled with the fact that more families are moving into new residential housing that was built in response to the 2005 Williamsburg-Greenpoint Waterfront Rezoning, has led to larger numbers of school-aged children living in the area, the lawmakers contended.

“Many newcomers to the area have moved to the area to begin new families, which have also added to the number of school age children within Greenpoint and Williamsburg. I have seen firsthand, more and more children on our streets and we need the proper crossing guard resources to ensure their safety,” Lentol said in a statement.

In their letter, dated Jan. 31, Squadron, Lentol and Levin pointed out that statistics from the Department of City Planning show that the population of Brooklyn Community Board 1, which includes the areas covered by the 94th Precinct, grew by nearly 8 percent between 2000 and 2010.

“Unfortunately, services have not kept pace with the increase in pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” the letter reads.

In addition, numerous construction projects and film shoots often cause traffic patterns to be temporarily shifted, the lawmakers said.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has included $6.3 million in his executive budget for Fiscal Year 2018 for crossing guards, additional personnel is needed now, according to the elected officials.

“Crossing guards can provide an added level of security for adults and children while they traverse intersections,” the letter read.

“Getting to and from school safely must be a given for students everywhere. I’ll continue pushing to ensure that the Greenpoint-Williamsburg community, and the 94th Precinct have the resources to ensure our students and families have safe avenues to and from school,” Squadron said. 

Levin said the safety of students and families must be a top priority for the city.

“While we continue to invest in safer street design and infrastructure, there is no replacement for crossing guards. As our community continues to grow, so must our commitment to ensuring safe travel to and from school,” he said.

An NYPD spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle that department officials would review the letter.

Local precinct commanders have a great deal of leeway when it comes to deciding where to assign school crossing guards, according to the NYPD.

“Schools and posts are assessed regularly by the precinct commanding officers,” the spokesperson told the Eagle via email. “These assessments include but are not limited to a review of traffic conditions, school size and street closures. These posts are then staffed in priority order.”

There is no set list of criteria to become a school crossing guard, but guards must be proficient in English. Candidates are required to pass a medical examination and a character investigation. Once appointed, the guards must complete six days of training at the Police Academy.

The probationary period for crossing guards is six months.

The duties of a crossing guard include regulating traffic at assigned school crossings, stopping vehicular traffic to permit safe crossing if there are no traffic lights and reporting traffic violations.

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