CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Provost Marshals Office’s Community Oriented Policing Service have come together with elementary schools on the base to organize a School Safety Patrol program to instill and enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety at the schools here.
“This program is in place to build partnerships with parents and students in the community using the resources they have available,” said Officer Bobbi Prevost, the lead coordinator of COPS. “There are no crossing guards at the schools and PMO doesn’t have the manpower to support all the schools, so I try to teach them to have a command presence around their school.”
Prevost teaches students and faculty members how to direct traffic and help pedestrians use crosswalks safely.
“One thing I tell them is to look the driver in the eye when directing them so both you and the driver know you are signaling to them when giving your hand signals,” said Prevost. “Use large hand motions for the drivers so they can see where you’re directing them and blow the whistle long and loud so everyone can hear it.”
North Terrace Elementary School only allows fifth graders to man the crosswalks and lets them leave class a few minutes early to set up the equipment they’ll need.
“This program serves two purposes for our students,” said Vicki Gravlin, a teacher at North Terrace Elementary School. “It promotes safety, helps build community relations and instills leadership skills in our students.”
Gravlin added that the program started the beginning of this year with about 10 students and grew to about 20 within a few months. To participate in the program, the students at North Terrace must do well in school, be good citizens and apply with parental consent.
About 20 to 30 minutes before school lets out, selected students go to the front office and set up for policing.
“We each have a special day when we come out to do this,” said Grace French, 10, a fifth grader at North Terrace Elementary School. “Everyone here volunteered to do this because we like to help people.”
The students wait for a large crowd to gather before stopping the vehicles and securing the area for pedestrians.
“We used to have a peace patrol at the school about a year ago before this program,” said Alyssa Youngblood, 10, who is also a student there. “For that patrol we walked around the school and the playground looking for bullies.”
The students and the supervising faculty use whistle and hand signals to direct traffic.
“This program is wonderfully successful,” said Gravlin. “It is very nice for the fifth graders to be able to take on some responsibility and for the other upcoming grades to look forward to being a part of this program.”
“I am lucky to be in this position and help the students be proactive and practice safety,” said Prevost. “I am proud of the students who volunteer to be a part of the patrol and hope this program continues from year to year.”