The current staffing level within the Patrol Division, has been hit the hardest. Supervisory staffing levels remain somewhat intact compared to the reduction of patrol and detective personnel.
Recently, at the Board of Education/Town Council initiated WHS parking/traffic safety forum, it was revealed to the general public that school crossing guards are not supposed to be directing traffic and only crossing people at their assigned locations. Westfield's consulting traffic safety engineer Gordon Meth stated, "Crossing guards are not really supposed to be directing traffic." What his comment should have been was, "Crossing guards should NOT be directing traffic." Refer to Chapter 7D "Crossing Supervision" of the the MUTCD for crossing guard rules. http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009/part7.pdf
Gordon Meth is the same engineer that recommended the new pedestrian activated light be installed mid-block on Central Ave. and not at the original proposed location at the intersection of Central Ave. and Clover St. If only G. Meth had realized that the pedestrian signal is "not really supposed to be installed mid-block." Then again, politics seem to infiltrate the decision making process of most things in Westfield.
With this recent revelation, it would be prudent to have police officers directing traffic at intersections where high pedestrian/motor vehicle traffic exists. (Rahway Ave./Dorian Rd., Rahway Ave./Grove St., Rahway Ave./Willow Grove Rd.) Each of these intersections is within the "grid" of what G. Meth has been hired to come up with a solution for with regards to pedestrian and traffic safety. Police Chief John M. Parizeau stated that one of the first things he wanted to do as Westfield's Police Chief was to increase the size of the department's Traffic Safety Bureau. Another promise of political proportions unkept.
Replace crossing guards with police officers during school crossing times would require taking officers away from other patrol functions. There have been times when there are no police officers patrolling the streets of Westfield. This has occurred in the event they are tied up inside police headquarters with an arrest, attending court, assisting on a medical call or other circumstances requiring their attention.
The need to staff the WPD with more sworn police officers is evident. When will town officials recognize that by reducing the staffing levels at the police and fire departments they are "aiding and abetting" the criminals and "playing with fire."
The safety of our police officers and firefighters are at stake. When that happens, the safety of the Westfield resident is at stake.