Except for a Westfield auxiliary or sworn police officer, adult crossing guards "shall not direct traffic in the usual law enforcement regulatory sense."
See the MUTCD "Section 7D.05 Operating Procedures for Adult Crossing Guards" listed below.
Earlier this year Westfield Police Traffic Safety Sgt. Jason McErlean was asked what authority adult crossing guards have directing traffic through STOP signs after students have crossed. Sgt. McErlean declined to answer and referred all questions to the police department's Watch Commander which happened to be Sgt. Jason Rodger on that specific day (a Friday morning.) Sgt. Rodger stated he would pass the information on up to the Chief of Police. On that day, Sgt. Rodger did not know who was in charge of the police department as outgoing police chief John Parizeau was on terminal leave and the Town had not yet named a replacement, at least not publicly.
During the last town council meeting, the topic of some adult crossing guards directing traffic and causing near accidents was brought up before the council without any response from the town council's Public Safety Committee Chairwoman, Acting Mayor JoAnn Neylan.
On any given day during the school year, crossing guards at intersections such as Dudley & Clark St., Clark St. & Cowperthwaite, Rahway Ave. & Grove St., Rahway Ave. & Willow Grove Rd., and Westfield Ave. & Park St. have been seen crossing students and then remaining in the street waving traffic through STOP signs while vehicles with the right of way are authorized to remain stopped.
Two incidents where a crossing guard left the middle of the street as he waved vehicles through a STOP sign almost resulted in a collision as traffic with the right of way began to move after seeing the guard leave the street and vehicles continued through the STOP sign. TFoTM understands that in some instances traffic backs up down streets without traffic being directed through stop signs. However, this is a duty authorized by trained sworn police officers and not adult crossing guards. A parent that was asked about the potential dangers of crossing guards directing traffic suggested that they not do it and to let traffic back up in the hopes that more parents would walk, instead of driving, their children to school or have them ride bicycles to alleviate the congestion around the schools.
One way or the other, town officials need to set the record straight and correct the problem before some school crossing guards become a hindrance to pedestrians and motorists alike.MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices)
2009 Edition Chapter 7D. Crossing Supervision
Section 7D.01 Types of Crossing Supervision
Support:01 There are three types of school crossing supervision:
- Adult control of pedestrians and vehicles by adult crossing guards,
- Adult control of pedestrians and vehicles by uniformed law enforcement officers, and
- Student and/or parent control of only pedestrians with student and/or parent patrols.
Section 7D.02 Adult Crossing Guards
Option:01 Adult crossing guards may be used to provide gaps in traffic at school crossings where an engineering study has shown that adequate gaps need to be created (see Section 7A.03), and where authorized by law.
Section 7D.03 Qualifications of Adult Crossing Guards
Support:01 High standards for selection of adult crossing guards are essential because they are responsible for the safety of and the efficient crossing of the street by schoolchildren within and in the immediate vicinity of school crosswalks.
Guidance:02 Adult crossing guards should possess the following minimum qualifications:
- Average intelligence;
- Good physical condition, including sight, hearing, and ability to move and maneuver quickly in order to avoid danger from errant vehicles;
- Ability to control a STOP paddle effectively to provide approaching road users with a clear, fully direct view of the paddle's STOP message during the entire crossing movement;
- Ability to communicate specific instructions clearly, firmly, and courteously;
- Ability to recognize potentially dangerous traffic situations and warn and manage students in sufficient time to avoid injury.
- Mental alertness;
- Neat appearance;
- Good character;
- Dependability; and
- An overall sense of responsibility for the safety of students.
Section 7D.05 Operating Procedures for Adult Crossing Guards
Standard:01 Adult crossing guards shall not direct traffic in the usual law enforcement regulatory sense. In the control of traffic, they shall pick opportune times to create a sufficient gap in the traffic flow. At these times, they shall stand in the roadway to indicate that pedestrians are about to use or are using the crosswalk, and that all vehicular traffic must stop.
02 Adult crossing guards shall use a STOP paddle. The STOP paddle shall be the primary hand-signaling device.
03 The STOP (R1-1) paddle shall be an octagonal shape. The background of the STOP face shall be red with at least 6-inch series upper-case white letters and border. The paddle shall be at least 18 inches in size and have the word message STOP on both sides. The paddle shall be retroreflectorized or illuminated when used during hours of darkness.
Option:04 The STOP paddle may be modified to improve conspicuity by incorporating white or red flashing lights on both sides of the paddle. Among the types of flashing lights that may be used are individual LEDs or groups of LEDs.
05 The white or red flashing lights or LEDs may be arranged in any of the following patterns:
- Two white or red lights centered vertically above and below the STOP legend,
- Two white or red lights centered horizontally on each side of the STOP legend,
- One white or red light centered below the STOP legend,
- A series of eight or more small white or red lights having a diameter of 1/4 inch or less along the outer edge of the paddle, arranged in an octagonal pattern at the eight corners of the STOP paddle (more than eight lights may be used only if the arrangement of the lights is such that it clearly conveys the octagonal shape of the STOP paddle), or
- A series of white lights forming the shapes of the letters in the legend.