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Sunday, November 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 48.0° F  Fog/Mist
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More power eyed for crossing guards
A crossing guard helps students near Marquette Elementary
A crossing guard helps students near Marquette Elementary School.
Credit:Joe Tarr

After motorists hit two area school kids during the first week of school, some are considering whether crossing guards should have more enforcement powers.

Crossing guards can now call in citations for failure to yield in a crosswalk, says Lt. David Jugovich of the Madison Police Department. If guards see someone drive through a crosswalk without yielding, they can call the license plate in to the police, who will cite the car's owner.

But if guards observe any other traffic violations -say, speeding or running a stop sign - police only send out a warning letter.

Between April 1 and June 30 of this year, according to the Police Department's quarterly traffic enforcement report, 14 motorists were cited based on information from crossing guards, and 169 warning letters were sent out.

"There are so very few citations," says Ald. Paul Skidmore, who thinks the warning letters are meaningless. "If you get a letter saying, 'Naughty boy, you did something wrong,' what are you going to do?"

Instead, he'd like to "empower the crossing guards to have more power to cite people" for other violations, like running stop signs. He admits some offenses, like speeding, should be left to police officers with radar guns, since judging speed by sight is difficult.

The matter is slated for discussion at the next Public Safety Review Committee meeting on Oct. 13.

Jugovich says it's worth discussing, but shies away from advocating for more powers: "The primary role of the crossing guard is to cross children safely. We have to make sure their primary goal is not negatively impacted."

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