Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Westinghouse Tragedy Spotlights O'Connor's Safety Plan

The irony of this is not good. They form a "safety partnership" and three kids get shot its first week. The shooting downtown wasn't within the 1,000 foot zone. - News - Westinghouse Tragedy Spotlights O'Connor's Safety Plan PITTSBURGH -- Tuesday morning's tragedy appears to be providing some momentum for Mayor Bob O'Connor's Safety Zone Partnership plan that he announced last week. O'Connor wants a comprehensive plan for creating 1,000-foot safety Zones around all city schools.
I think it is bad public policy to be dumping our kids downtown to get bus transfers. I think the kids in the schools need to be on school buses more than on public PAT buses. I've talked about this before.

The bus routes and the flow of traffic in Pittsburgh is NOT like that in Philly. In a flat mega city like Philly, the kids can better use the buses to get to where they need to go.

In Pittsburgh, we've got some High Schools, and even Middle Schools, that are put in far-flung corners -- such as Brashier. You can't walk along Rt. 51 to get to Brashier. Buses don't really go along that stretch of Rt. 51 to pass by Brashier.

We do have a school that sits at a big junction of many buses -- on South Side -- and that school is up for sale. That is wrong. South Vo Tech sits at a good location for a school building. We need to keep those locations in public control for valued uses -- like for our kids.

The School District should NOT sell off South Vo Tech High School. Not now.

I'm very happy that the kids who are causing some of these problems are getting caught. The kids in the school at Perry last week with a gun got nabbed -- right away -- perfect actions by the school security folks.

Great to see the police swarm and then catch the kids running around by Gateway Center. A citizen saw the one ditch a gun -- he spoke up and that's what we need. Great.

Let's hope that the shooters outside of Westinghouse in the morning violence get caught.

I'm less worried about a 1,000 foot radius -- and do worry about the holistic plan for the entire city and an entire generation (or two) of young people. But, you need to put a line in the sand somewhere.

... We need dogs in our schools to check for drugs and guns," said O'Connor. Dogs are okay at checking for bombs, right. Are they any good finding a hand gun? Dogs might do a good service in the lunch rooms too -- to pick up spilled food from the floor.

Dogs.... I've got a better idea. I think we should have a school or department that is geared to the bio-sciences. The students in that department, say all the juniors, should train from a puppy a work-dog. That would be a valuable life and educational lesson. There are many types of working dogs: assist dogs, etc.

Here is another major need -- and it has been something I've said HUNDREDS of times. We need to re-hire crossing guards. The city used to have crossing guards. The crossing guards are few and far between. The crossing guards were often closer to schools, as well as bus stops. The crossing guards were city employees with a badge and reported to the police chain of command.

The past mayor fired all the crossing guards.

The burden of paying for the crossing guards went upon the schools. That was wrong. I want the schools to pay for teachers, reading coaches, text books --- not public safety.

Crossing guards work the streets, make cars go slower, become hired eyes and ears on all sorts of matters.

Crossing guards are affordable. But, they are also more, much, much more, than a volunteer.

As a city council member -- I'll work to retore and enhance the program for crossing-guards.

Even when the crisis with the guns end -- crossing-guards have a long-term benefit. More people get run down with autos than anything else. The cars are part of the real problems in life. Traffic accidents are a big threat.

A crossing guards can have a car towed that is illegal in an intersection. A crossing-guards can be the eyes and ears -- getting the drug dealing motor home yanked out of the lot next to the school. The crossing guards should be able to write a speeding ticket. The crossing guards can be with radios.

The crossing guards can make things much safer -- without being in riot gear.


Anonymous said...

Crossing guards should NOT be writing speeding tickets.

How are they going to gauge speed?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Well, you can guage speed with a stop watch. So, it would take a couple of lines on the pavement -- and a stop watch. That's very low tech. Very accurate too. It, of course, depends upon the intersection, view, etc.

But, there are more things to write tickets about other than 'speeding.' Mostly, there is the problem with passing a bus with the flashing red lights. That is a ticket worthy infraction.

Or, someone who stops in the middle of an intersection -- to drop off passengers who then need to cross the street -- say a parent of a kid, or buddies, etc. That is dangerous too.

U-turns in the middle of the road - what ever. There are lots of things that can be given witness to on the street corners. And, a person there with a badge is going to work to calm the problems and keep things more safe.

Anonymous said...

The badge you speak of is no better than a badge a security guard at a building has.

They would never let crossing guards write speeding tickets. Would never happen. Why would they take time away from watching the intersections by using a stop watch?

And how would they catch someone? lol Hop into their "crossing guard squad car?"

Silly idea.

Leave the ticket writing to the police.

Mark Rauterkus said...

How do the police catch a shooter outside a high school when the police are not there? Perhaps, they don't. Or, they do make a catch after a zillion hours of investigational work. Or, they get lucky, perhaps.

So, catching a speeder with a radio is a heck of a lot easier than catching a shooter without a crossing guard.

And, perhaps the crossing guard just puts a ticket into the mail. They give out tickets on the highway for toll jumpers and never have to catch up with the driver.

The objections don't wash.

If the shooting happens -- and the car goes one block away -- or -- was sitting in the same block as a crossing guard for the past 30 minutes -- DUHHH. Caught. Seen.

And, really, best yet, prevented.

The fact that the badge of a crossing-guard isn't something that they "let" -- well -- time to "think again." ('won't let em write a ticket)

Furthermore, I can walk and chew gum at the same time. And even, watch and time. Not so difficult. Others could do it as well.

The badge of a crossing guard can be what we make it.

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