FLATLANDS, Brooklyn— We always see cops racing to crime scenes— but now get used to also seeing them help school kids cross streets.
At the intersection of East 54th Street and Avenue H in Brooklyn, a patrol officer was doing just that Thursday afternoon for PS 251 students.
There are apparently so many sick calls from school crossing guards, that Mayor de Blasio has called on Police Commissioner Bratton to have his officers step in. Cops got word on Tuesday they'd be filling in for the civilian part timers.
“I’m not really worried about it. Either regular crossing guards or officers, either which way I’m happy, as long as the kids are safe,” said Devon Williams, whose son goes to PS 251.
But many expressed concern that this means fewer officers will be fighting crime in a department that’s already stretched thin.
The NYPD said traffic enforcement agents will be the first ones to cover the vacant posts. Last minute needs will be met by patrol officers. The department insists the public’s safety will not be compromised.
The head of the police union said the solution is to hire more cops.
“We do not shrink from that responsibility, we embrace it. However, the city needs to hire more officers—we are 6,000 down from Safe Street, Safe City levels--if we are to continue to insure the safety of all the public," said PBA President Pat Lynch.
Similarly, Shaun D. Francois, the president of AFSCME Local 372, the union representing the city’s 2,400 school crossing guards, said it’s less about sick calls and more about hiring more guards.
The union recently worked out a deal with the city to raise the starting pay for the part time civilian employees from $11.79 an hour to $12.18.