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Crossing guard shortgage may put kids at risk, parents say
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Is money coming in the way of protecting our children on the streets? Some parents say yes and they want to know what the police department is doing about the lack of crossing guards throughout our community.
"Unless you have a kind soul that stops for you or unless there's no traffic, it's kind of scary to cross," explained mom Jessica Graham.
If it's scary for a parent, image what it's like for kids at Tanaka Elementary who walk home from school on their own. At El Capitan and Arby there are two stop signs, one crosswalk and no crossing guard.
"It's very hard they don't stop and you just have to wait here," said dad Kris Kemp.
Eleven miles away at Evelyn Stuckey Elementary kids pour through the crosswalk when the bell rings. It's another spot with no crossing guard, although it is a 15 mph school zone with a crosswalk.
"We do need some people to guard our kids across the crosswalk because there's a lot of traffic here," explained one mom.
Those are just two of many intersections across the Valley where parents and school principals feel kids need crossing guards.
"The number of crossing guards that we put at different locations for the elementary schools has been an issue since I've been assigned here," explained Captain Mark Tavarez with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Captain Tavarez says they're down 31 guards now and, as a father himself, he wishes LVMPD could put guards near every elementary school. But he says it just isn't possible.
"Does the shortage put our community at risk," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"The number of children at each crossing determines where we place the guards," said Captain Tavarez.
That is, if the LVMPD could afford it. But, they say the money isn't there.
In October, LVMPD counted the number of kids crossing at El Capitan and Arby. They counted 41 kids. That's almost five times as many as last year when only 9 crossed there. Two guards used to be there but they left for medical reasons and weren't replaced.
"I've noticed that some of the younger kids ... they'll wait for me to cross and cross with me so I kinda feel bad about that," said Jessica.
Action News spotlighted the safety issues there earlier this month.
"One of these kids one day can, god forbid, anything can happen, they can get hit," said Joe Nisgarcia.
We took their concerns straight to the police department.
"Because of the research done by you and by my staff at that particular intersection we're going to ask them what they can do to improve it," said Captain Tavarez.
LVMPD is working with the county to see if another crosswalk can be added. Drivers may be seeing more yellow vests across the Valley once the new year hits.
"We're predicting on January 7th, we'll be fully staffed," said Patricia Pohl from All City Management Services.
All City Management Services, aka The Crossing Guard Company, has contracted with Metro to become the private vendor for the crossing guard program. They'll work closely with police to get up to 411 guards valley-wide and cut down on cost in the process.
"You can fully staff where Metro can't at a savings of $160,000 a year," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"That's what we anticipate, yes," explained Patricia.
But the question remains what happens to intersections like El Capitan and Arby in the meantime?
"That's two months away I mean that's unbelievable," said Kris.
LVMPD says they've hired some provisional guards until All City Management Services takes over. Details on when those guards will start hitting the streets are still being worked out. They won't be hiring anymore until All City Management Services is fully on board.
"We don't have that kind of money. The revenue streams I'm sure you're well aware are down for all municipal and county agencies," said Captain Tavarez.
That leaves moms like Jessica on guard.
"It doesn't bother as much because I walk with my kids," said Jessica.
All City Management Services says they don't have the authority to determine which intersections will get guards. So they'll be working with police and city officials.