The Nassau County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee held a hearing to address concerns about the shortage of Crossing Guards, and the use of Police Officers to take their place. Speakers included: Jerry Laricchiuta, President of CSEA; James McDermott, President of the Nassau County PBA; and Patrick Ryder, Commissioner of Police for Nassau County.
Many crossing guard positions have not been filled by the County, and because of the designation for crossing guards that changed many from full time to part time. Each day, the county is at least fifty crossing guards short of the required number.
An officer filling in for a crossing guard is taken off patrol and cannot leave his or her crossing, under any circumstances. They must remain at their crossing until the shift is over, even if they see the incident while standing there. PBA President McDermott brought up an incident where a call to aide an individual who had fallen was sent to an officer, but he could not leave his post at a crossing for an hour. By the time he got to the aided, that resident was in much worse shape.
CSEA President Laricchiuta said simply that sworn officers are not supposed to be doing the job of civilians. He asked that the County administration get serious about hiring new crossing guards so the Police Commissioner did not need to put police officers there. In the past year alone, police officers had to sub in for crossing guards around 15,000 times. There have been instances where most of a precinct had to be taken off patrol to help at a crossing.
Before the legislators began questioning, the speakers asked for the administration to hire new crossing guards at full time salaries so sworn police officers would not need to be taken off patrol. By keeping officers on their beat, they are able to keep Nassau’s historically low crime rate down and ensure the safety of our communities.
“For all the parents that live in the County, crossing guards are an essential safety precaution for their children,” Alternate Deputy Presiding Officer and Chairperson of the Public Safety Committee Denise Ford said. “They help make sure drivers don’t hit students walking to and from school, and they provide extra security, and give parents an added peace of mind. Nassau County needs to make sure we have enough crossing guards, and we are not pulling Officers from their posts to fill in. I urge the County Executive to work with the unions to ensure adequate staffing.”
“Our police department is the best in the nation,” Legislator Rose Walker said. “They work hard to keep our County Safe. When Police Officers have to fill in for crossing guards, they are unable to patrol our community. Our crossing guards are essential, and we need to make sure they are fully funded and fully staffed so our children and our community are safe.”