Kokua Line
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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Saturday, April 17, 1999


JPOs, advisers
aren’t always
easy to find

Question: Why aren't there JPOs fronting Waialae Elementary School every morning to help students cross the streets? They are there twice a week, at the most. I depend on them to help my child across busy streets. I've asked the school about the situation and they said they are working on it. This was in December. Could you help me get an answer?

Answer: The answer primarily is that there are not enough adult supervisors, voluntary or otherwise, to ensure the safety of the students involved the the Junior Police Officer program.

It's not simply a matter of just posting youngsters at a crossing, with many factors to be considered, said Susan Minami, Waialae's chief educational officer.

To begin with, she said, the program is high risk because it puts students on the streets during peak traffic hours. So JPOs cannot begin duty until they have been trained by a Honolulu Police Department officer. Also, JPOs are not allowed out unless there is an adult supervisor and unless there is an HPD-suggested minimum of eight JPOS, Minami said.

The JPO advisor is a volunteer who must be on campus 7:30-8:10 a.m. Despite attempts to secure other volunteers, Waialae continues to have only one advisor. When that one volunteer is not available, as sometimes happens, JPOs cannot go on duty, Minami said.

Also, HPD advises that in "bad" weather, the JPOS should not go out because of safety concerns. There have been many rainy or extremely windy days since January, Minami noted, so that also has curtailed JPO duty.

With 48 percent of Waialae's students living outside the school district, a majority arrive at school by car. So, "street duty" for JPOs also means helping students out of their cars, Minami said. The school tries to staff the street crossings first, then the "door openers," she said, but if there are not enough JPOS, "we do not provide crossing services."

JPOs are usually posted at the intersection of 19th and Pahoa avenues, because it is a very busy location before and after school.

Parents have voiced concerns about the safety of their children crossing this intersection, so the school has "continuously requested that HPD provide us with a traffic monitor," Minami said.

Months after school began, a monitor was assigned to Waialae, but she has since left and the position remains vacant.

"Our understanding is that almost every other school within the area has a traffic monitor ... to complement the school's JPO program," Minami said. However, because of the lack of volunteers, Waialae hasn't been able to find one of its own.

Minami said the school staff shares your concern about safety for all students, both those walking to school and the JPOS.

"We have made every possible effort to create a safe environment, from sending out numerous flyers to our families reminding drivers to practice safe driving habits to requesting help from parents for the JPO Program," she said.

If you have any suggestions or questions, call her at 733-4880.

Tapa

Mahalo

To Katherine P. of Kauai. She was very nice to return to the scene of an accident she witnessed in the parking lot of the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center on Saturday, March 27. Although she was running late to get to town, she took the time to give her statement to police. I hope you and your children are safe on Kauai. -- Frank





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