Safety is primary concern for school

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2003

Although Pike County is sweltering under the hot summer sun and the hottest month of the year is yet to come, thoughts are already turning to the first day of school.

Parents are probably giving more happy thoughts to that day, than their children. And, even though one might not think about it, officers of the Troy Police Department are giving serious thoughts to back-to-school days.

Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the TPD, said when the opening of school approaches each term, safety is first and foremost on the minds of the TPD officers.

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"Safety is always a concern," Scarbrough said. "We have so many youngsters that walk to school, so many who are driven by their parents and a lot of kids who drive themselves. School traffic is very heavy and we are always concerned with the safety of our kids."

Scarbrough said enrollment at Troy Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center tops 1,300 and "that's a lot of kids to get to and from school each day."

"There's only one entrance to the two schools and there are two exits and that's a lot of vehicle traffic in that area,' he said. " We have an officer direct traffic at the entrance and one at the lower exit. The officers keep the traffic moving at a good pace and the crossing guards are there for the safety of those that walk. We are very concerned about the safety of our kids and the officers and crossing guards do a good job."

Scarbrough said an officer also directs traffic at Gibbs and Elm streets and an officer at Pike Liberal Arts School.

"There's a lot of school traffic turning off Elm onto Gibbs and traffic around the middle school also figures into that," he said. "Having an officer there is a big help. But, there are traffic lights at the high school, so we don't need an officer there. And, Pike Liberal Arts is on busy Highway 231 so we need - and want - an officer out there directing traffic."

Capt. Grady Wiggins of the TPD checks the pedestrian routes that are popular with school children to make sure there is nothing along those walkways that would be a safety hazard. If he finds anything that could cause an accident, we get it repaired or removed before the kids start to school."

Scarbrough said all officers of the TPD are trained to direct traffic so that vehicles move in a safe and efficient manner.

"We don't have to add extra officers to direct traffic during the school year," he said. "It's just part of our regular patrol duties and we do take it seriously because it is serious."

The police officers do their job in making sure the streets and walkways are safe for students and their parents, but Scarbrough said parents need to begin now talking to their children about school safety.

"There's a lot to know and, for adults, it's a common sense thing," he said. "But for kids, they need to be reminded again and again about safety going to and from school and safety on the school grounds. There's a lot of traffic around the schools. We all need to be very careful. We want to have a safe school year and it's up to each one of us."