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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

October, 2002

Mayor Greg Nickels
City of Seattle
600 Fourth Avenue
12th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mayor Nickels,

I am writing on behalf of the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board in opposition to proposed reduction of the Seattle Police Department Adult Crossing Guard Program. Your current budget proposal includes a 25% cut in service in this vitally important program for the safety of our City's school children. There has also been discussion of eventually phasing out the Adult Crossing Guard Program completely, with the hope that the current paid guards will be replaced by volunteer parents and students. The Crossing Guard program has been in existence over 50 years, during which time it has saved countless lives and injuries near our schools. The current proposal would remove that protection first from private schools, then over a three year period, from public schools as well.

We believe this to be a bad idea. Protecting our schoolchildren and giving them a safe passage to and from school is and should be one of the top public safety priorities of the City of Seattle. To remove this guarantee with the hope that the trained professionals that currently guard our school crossings can be replaced is gambling with children's lives. We cannot just assume or hope that there will be sufficient numbers of volunteers that are willing to make the commitment to maintaining this program, either adults or children. Additionally, volunteers are much more likely to be absent or late to their jobs, since there is no financial incentive for them to be there on time. Replacing adult crossing guards, many with years of experience, with child crossing guards, would severely reduce the effectiveness of the program and expose the child crossing guards to substantial risk.

It is simply unacceptable to remove the protection of crossing guards completely. The highest rates of car/pedestrian accidents occur near our schools. We believe that at $1 Million a year, this program more than pays for itself in terms of lives saved and injuries prevented. The Adult Crossing Guard Program is a vital component of the Seattle Police Department and should be maintained at full strength. We urge you to reconsider your proposal and re-submit the budget proposal to the Council, minus this cut.

Sincerely,

Charles R. Smith
Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

cc: City Council Members