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Westfield Board of Ed Asked About Authority of Crossing Guards

After two children were struck in front of Edison School, resident asks for clarification on role of crossing guards.

Westfield resident Greg Kasko spoke before the Board of Education Thursday evening to ask for clarification on the authority of crossing guards in light of the recent accident in which two children were hit by a car on their way to Edison Intermediate School. 

Kasko, who regularly attends meetings of the Westfield Town Council to question the placement of the pedestrian activated HAWK signal on Central Avenue, began by recognizing the job that crossing guards do on a daily basis to protect children on their way to and from school.

"With that being said, about a year ago I contacted the Westfield Police Department regarding crossing guards directing traffic," Kasko said. "I had not gotten a response. I then went to the Town Council. Being that these crossing guards are employed by the Town of Westfield, I felt that they would lead me in the right direction of an answer. l did not get an answer."

Kasko said following the recent accident in which the children were not seriously injured and both returned to school the following day, he sent an email to Mayor Andy Skibitsky and members of the Town Council outlining four separate incidents he witnessed as a cyclist, a motorist and a pedestrian where accidents almost occurred because of crossing guards remaining in the roadway to direct cars after children had safely crossed.

"My question to you is 'Why are they directing traffic after their job of crossing students is completed and if so, who is giving them the authority to do so?" he said.

Kasko said his concerns are for his daughters, both of whom are crossed in the intersections, where accidents have occurred or have almost taken place. He then referenced the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which he said is considered "the Bible for traffic safety officers and traffic safety engineers" which states that crossing guards are not supposed to be directing traffic in a law enforcement manner. 

The following passage comes from the MUTCD 

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.

"Standing in the middle of the roadway and directing vehicles through stop signs once children have crossed is directing traffic in a law enforcement manner," Kasko said. "I'm hoping that this will addressed and I'm hoping that I can get an answer."

BOE President Richard Mattessich said he was glad that the students were recovering quickly and agreed that the crossing guards do an excellent but added that the crossing guards report to the Town, not to the BOE.

"It is my understanding that they shouldn't be directing traffic unless they are also policemen or women," he said. "I don't believe that is their job but again, I don't make the rules with respect to the crossing guards. We can certainly talk to the Town Administrator, with whom we have an excellent relationship, and try to understand what the crossing guards are doing."

Mattessich asked schools superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan to confirm that she was looking into ways to make the intersection near Edison School and other intersections safer. 

"Yes, that process has started but we can certainly continue," she said.

A.John Blake January 05, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Ricky L., Police are trained to properly direct traffic and when someone doesn't follow their direction, they have the power to immediately issue a summons. The power to direct traffic was given by State statute to the police. Crossing guards are present to more properly control the actions of the immature pedestrian not the motorist. At present, you prefer to insult Mr.Kasko rather than recognize that everything he has said and asked is based on facts. At no time has anyone other than you suggested that the Town expend any extra money. It is a matter of priorities and allocation of the resources we have.There was a time when the police in town directed traffic. There was a permanent assignment of a cop at Broad and Prospect. We have a staff of Parking Officers, each of whom is a special. They have been trained and are authorized to direct traffic. There are officers in HQ assigned to a typewriter who could get a little fresh air twice a day. There is no need to hire anyone. Argue with facts and leave your irrelevant opinion of Mr.Kasko out of the debate. A.John Blake
Pete January 05, 2013 at 01:52 AM
I have a better idea Doogie: get the guards out of the road when there are no kids crossing. Let the traffic follow the simple rules of the road like yielding and stopping at Stop signs. No expense.
MS January 05, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Thank you - I didn't realize that. I just know that the crossing guard (police officer) at Dorian & Rahway is able to keep the traffic moving preventing major backup.
Traffic Safety Officer January 05, 2013 at 02:42 AM
New Jersey Traffic Laws - Title 39 39:4-144. Failure to Stop at Stop Sign 39:4-144 Stopping or yielding right of way before entering stop or yield intersections. 39:4-144. No driver of a vehicle or street car shall enter upon or cross an intersecting street marked with a "stop" sign unless the driver has first brought the vehicle or street car to a complete stop at a point within five feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line marked upon the pavement at the near side of the intersecting street and shall proceed only after yielding the right of way to all traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No driver of a vehicle or street car shall enter upon or cross an intersecting street marked with a "yield right of way" sign without first slowing to a reasonable speed for existing conditions and visibility, stopping if necessary, and the driver shall yield the right of way to all traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard; unless, in either case, the driver is otherwise directed to proceed by a traffic or police officer or traffic control signal.
Traffic Safety Officer January 05, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Title 39 gives the police the authority to direct traffic. Title 39 does not give a crossing guard the authority to direct traffic. Regardless of whether or not a crossing guard "does a great job directing traffic" as some suggest, it is not legal to direct motorists through STOP signs. If a crossing guard directs vehicle 1 through a stop sign and that vehicle 1 causes an accident with vehicle 2, vehicle 1 will be at fault for the accident regardless of the crossing guards direction. Doogie Howser........A crossing guard should not be standing in the middle of a crosswalk if there are no children crossing. if thats the case, any nutjob could stand in a crosswalk in the middle of town and hold up traffic at any time. The purpose of a crosswalk is to delineate a protected pathway to cross a road. its purpose is not for a loitering crossing guard holding up traffic on the flow through street to allow the STOP street to proceed through a STOP sign.
Traffic Safety Officer January 05, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Mr. Kasko is 100% correct in the fact that crossing guards are not authorized to direct traffic as police officers are. Whether you like him or not, he is right on this one. My guess as to why the Mayor and police are stonewalling him and not giving him an answer is because they know he is right and they don't want to have to tell the crossing guards to stop directing traffic. The Mayor and police don't want to receive calls from the citizenry complaining about traffic jams around the schools. What the Mayor and police should be doing is promoting walking, biking, and if need be, carpooling to school to cut down on vehicular traffic. If any traffic safety officer (TSO) had to take the stand in a civil case involving an accident caused by a crossing guard directing traffic, you can bet your mortgage the TSO will deny ever telling a crossing guard to direct traffic on a school crossing post. It's an unwritten and undocumented suggestion to crossing guards in order to alleviate congestion but the crossing guard will be hung out to dry if an accident happens due to his/her traffic directing.
NR9 January 05, 2013 at 11:31 AM
@Traffic Safety Officer. Very helpful/informative comments. Well said. Thanks.
South Westfielder January 07, 2013 at 10:59 PM
@Traffic Safety Officer. While Kasko may be right, his motives are far from altruistic and for the safety of the community. He has now found something to add to or replaced the Hawk light on Central. Something else for him to complain and get himself some press and some tomatoes thrown at the mayor.
South Westfielder January 07, 2013 at 11:02 PM
@NR9, Kasko's past employment has a lot to do with this. He is out to get even with the Mayor and the others. If you look long enough and push hard enough, eventually one can find a wart and he did. It is also funny how Mattessich was blasted by his foes as not being transparent when the roof and lighted field issue came up and now he is all of a sudden. Get real you Kasko hack.
A.John Blake January 08, 2013 at 01:27 AM
South Westfielder, It must be nice to read an article and be able to tell everyone the motive of the author. I wish I had that ability because I would then be able to tell everyone why you castigate a man you say is correct. You don't seem to say he was wrong about the Central Ave light,you merely dislike the fact that the mayor ended up with tomato on himself. May I also remind you that no one contradicted Mr.Kasko factually about Central Ave.,they merely supported the general job done by the Mayor. Be thankful that anyone tries to correct something that is improper. Pay attention to the message rather than attack the messenger. I'm sure you will continue to monitor Mr.Kasko. Please let everyone know what facts he has gotten wrong. When he has the facts right, don't take out your ouija board to decipher his motives. A.JohnBlake
NR9 January 08, 2013 at 02:30 AM
@South Westfielder. Your method has always been to do to Kasko what you accuse him of doing to Skibitsky. Except in Kasko’s case, he actually supports his positions with FACTS, DOCUMENTS, EXPERT TESTIMONY, etc. Meanwhile, you always just attack the various MESSENGERS since you are NEVER able to support any of your supposed positions with any kinds of FACTS, DOCUMENTS, EXPERT TESTIMONY, ETC. I find it interesting that you even agree with some of Kasko’s points yet you still can’t ever bring yourself to do anything but attack HIM. For instance, you wrote above about Kasko… “While Kasko may be right…” and that he did “find a wart.” Can’t you put aside your dislike of Kasko, Blake, NR9, etc. and focus on the MESSAGES themselves? Clearly, if you keep attacking the messengers, then it’s because you have no solid ground to stand on with regards to the comments themselves. Your position seems to always be “the opposite of whatever Kasko says.” That really does nothing to help the discussion.
South Westfielder January 08, 2013 at 11:01 PM
NR9, You sit pretty high, don't you? First of all, I don't "dislike" anyone I do not know personally. I do question motives and I don't trust Kasko's, Blakes and yours quite frankly by what you write, by how you attack and blame anyone who you disagree with. You all come across as a bunch of narcacissting "know it alls" who use your bully pulputs to discredit people who diagree with you. You overlook warts and excuse them away. The devil can charm you easily - you're a piece of cake.
South Westfielder January 08, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Mr. Blake, everyone knows your connection to Mr. Kasko and the self-serving nature of your own attacks on the Mayor and the BOE. Your mantra should not be "It's for the children" but rather "It's all about ME".
A.John Blake January 09, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Sir/Madam, My first thought was to dissect your inane comment but I realized that The best way to convince others of the low level of your comment was to invite them to read the trash you write complete with mis-spellings. You don't even have enough pride in what you write to make sure it is spelled correctly. Another perfect example of someone who thinks others might consider him stupid and can't wait to say something and prove them correct. A.John Blake
South Westfielder January 09, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Mr. Blake, this is not a dissertation or publication - it is a blog. Your focus on mis-spellings or typos is simply an attempt to divert attention away from the truth of my message. Anything to divert attention away from a message you don't agree with or want to hear.
Andrew January 09, 2013 at 05:26 PM
I have often seen crossing guards direct traffic when no kids are around. I don't mean after kids are done crossing but rather from start to finish without kids being around. Their view always seems to be that the side streets are as important as the main road. At times I'm stuck in traffic for 8+ minutes - 2-3 cycles of kids/side streets before I can continue. I don't mind the kids. I hate the side streets being cleared before I can go. I have missed my train twice now even when I leave the house early. Frustrating. And what if there is an accident? Who is responsible if they are not legally directing traffic? FYI - I have no problems with the Cop at the High School. My issue is with Edison. Stop letting in cars from the side street and parents will find a new way to drive!
Kim S. January 09, 2013 at 05:51 PM
What is the truth of your message? You have drifted so far off topic we could be talking about the strong arm tactics of the WEA President during contract negotiations and nobody would remember the story for which these comments are supposed to be about.
Kim S. January 09, 2013 at 07:58 PM
The above comment is directed at South Westfielder
A.John Blake January 09, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Sir/Madam, I must defer to you, the Master (Mistress) of diversion . A.John Blake
South Westfielder January 09, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Mr. Blake, I have nothing to prove to you and am not starved for attention. I have no bad reputation to repair and I don't need to take anyone down with me to make me look taller. I don't care how people like you, Kasko, NR9, Kim S or anyone else for that matter perceive me. Unlike you, I do not need to beat my breast and appear on Channel 36 to make me feel important.
Kim S. January 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM
But you do seem to have a need to divert from the discussion by criticizing others instead of responding to the story.
South Westfielder January 10, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Kim, I have said all I needed to say. Kasko is correct that crossing guards do not have the legal authority to direct traffic. I think it is a waste of money to require and pay a cop to do that., but it is what it is. I also made the point that just becasue he is correct doesn't mean that he is bringing it up for the children or for the community. He has been on a mission to discredit and get back at the Mayor and Town Council. People with bad intentions can bring up good points. There isn't anything to further to discuss or respond to.
NR9 January 10, 2013 at 08:02 PM
@South Westfielder wrote: “…just because he [Kasko] is correct doesn't mean that he is bringing it up for the children or for the community. He has been on a mission to discredit and get back at the Mayor and Town Council. People with bad intentions can bring up good points.” In the past, you’ve always disagreed with Kasko and anyone else who pointed out that the town-hired traffic experts (Gordon Meth and Pennoni) recommended in their written reports that a REGULAR traffic light be installed at CLOVER and Central, rather than a HAWK light in its current location of CAMBRIDGE and a driveway and Central. When repeatedly asked to actually support your opinion with the multitude of reasons why you seem to think our politicians were correct in completely IGNORING our town-hired traffic safety experts, and after sixteen traffic accidents took place at the Cambridge portion of Central Avenue subsequent to equipment installation, you repeatedly presented no FACTS/DATA whatsoever to support your view. (continued…)
NR9 January 10, 2013 at 08:02 PM
(part 2 of 2) So, just as you stated above to Kim S., can we then conclude that, absent any FACTS to support your position, all along, you actually thought Kasko was making GREAT points on the topic but you have been disagreeing with them simply because he has what you consider to be “bad intentions.” Really, why are you so in disagreement with HIS FACTS (not his intentions) with regard to the light and everything else he presents to others in our community for discussion? If you’re going to disagree with him and others on all sorts of topics, you need to support your positions with FACTS. When you simply attack the PEOPLE/MESSAGES, it suggests that you have nothing with which to support your position(s).
South Westfielder January 11, 2013 at 06:11 PM
@NR9, you can conclude whatever you want - you are going to anyway. I cannot, nor do I wish to get inside your head or change your mind about anything. It's your life, my dear and you impact mine not at all.
NR9 January 11, 2013 at 07:48 PM
@South Westfielder. Once again, your comment remains off topic and is not supported by compelling facts/data/documents, etc. of any kind. Kim S. got it right when she said of your method of commenting on Patch: "But you do seem to have a need to divert from the discussion by criticizing others instead of responding to the story." Your method of always attacking peoples' comments because of who the people are, rather than focusing on the merits of the comments themselves, is very troublesome and does not have the affect of helping the community to discuss important community related topics.
South Westfielder January 11, 2013 at 09:02 PM
@NR9, My problem is that I do not suffer fools like you lightly. I need to do better. I'll work on that in 2013.
NR9 January 11, 2013 at 09:31 PM
@South Westfielder wrote: "My problem is that I do not suffer fools like you lightly. I need to do better. I'll work on that in 2013." Still, no facts/data/documents etc. here to support your strong opinions on local topics. This is another character attack. After a couple of years, still no facts/data/documents etc. to support your strong opinions on many topics. No more character attacks please. Those suggest you have no strong points to support your strong opinions. Over a couple of years, you've repeatedly commented in support of Mayor Skibitsky's decision to ignore the traffic safety experts' recommendations yet you've provided only character attacks against commenters as your "support." Please work on that in 2013 as well. Example: 16 accidents subsequent to equipment installation (as documented on accident reports at Westfield Police Dept. as well as local newspapers), traffic safety expert reports produced by (Gordon Meth, Pennoni Associates), etc.
Reggie January 13, 2013 at 01:24 PM
The crossing guard at Westfield and Park St is a wannabe cop. He retired as a fireman and is jealous that his coworker at Dorian and Rahway is able to direct traffic and he is not. It's a power trip for him to be able to stand in the middle of the street and tell people what to do. The guy at Westfield and Park St is going to get someone killed allowing people to go through the stop signs without stopping. Someone please put a stop to this immediately before a tragedy occurs.
S_O_G May 14, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Please ignore this account (NR9), it is someone that just wants to cause problems.

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