Volunteer crossing guards keep kids safe

LOS ANGELES Lametra Nicholson isn't paid for spending her mornings at /*Cochran Middle School*/. She, like the others with the safety vests, is a volunteer. They are the traffic control cops around the school.

/*Keeping All Corners Safe*/ is a program put together by the /*L.A. City Attorney's office*/, the /*Los Angeles Unified School District*/ and the /*Los Angeles Police Department*/. Its mission is to make intersections and streets near /*LAUSD*/ schools safer.

The principal says that before these crossing guards were put in place, there were some near misses when kids tried to cut through traffic to get to class.

"We noticed that our children were coming to school in an unsafe manner. Parents were dropping them off anywhere -- in the middle of the street and kids were dashing across and in danger of being hit by a car," said Scott Schmerelson, principal, Cochran Middle School. "So we established this system, both in the front of the school and in the back of the school, for school safety."

The /*LAPD*/ provides vests, cones and training. The volunteers are trained how to direct traffic through the school.

Along with the LAPD, there are school police officers that assist volunteers on the streets when kids arrive and leave.

The program also deals with other safety issues.

"We also address illegal vending and truancy prevention through truancy sweeps and parent outreach," said Deputy City Attorney Kristen Byrdsong. "And we have community partners, such as 7-Eleven and Jack in the Box, who have agreed to put up signage so that kids won't ditch school. And they're informed that if they are out of class without legal permission, they could face consequences."

There is no funding to pay for crossing guards, which is why the volunteers are needed. However, volunteers say there is one priceless benefit: creating a sense of family at school.

"I love it because I do get to meet the parents. And you see who these children belong to and you kind of develop a relationship with the parents," said Nicholson.

For more information, or if you would like to volunteer to be a crossing guard, contact Kristen Byrdsong at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office at (213) 978-2201.



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