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IN DEPTH: The Kids are Back Part 1–Safety

Patrolman Eric Orr with the Knoxville Police Department grew up in police work–he was raised in Pella, and his dad is still on the Pella PD. I went on a ride along with Patrolman Orr to ask him about how to keep our kids safe going to and from classes. I’ve seen Knoxville and Pella police officers on school patrol many times, and last year I rode along with Pella PD Lieutenant Paul Haase as he patrolled Pella’s streets one day as kids were arriving at school.

Riding with Patrolmen Orr the other day reminded me of the efforts that all of our law-enforcement officers county-wide do to help keep our kids safe. Among responding to calls for service, and officer on patrol does traffic enforcement, provides extra visibility to encourage drivers to be more cautious, watch for drivers not responding to buses appropriately, makes sure kids are crossing streets safely, getting in and out of buses safely, and ensuring that drivers are obeying stop signs, speed limits, and cross walks markings. He and other officers also looking for people and vehicles that “just don’t look right,” or are not commonly in the area to help ensure the safety of kids.

Patrolman Orr had a number of recommendations to make:

1. Adults need to be careful when driving–kids can pop up out of anywhere. Elementary and Middle School children may not really know their environment very well.

2. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Not only the adults. Adults need to teach kids to look both ways, use cross walks and stop and go signals appropriately.

3. Adults need to know the rules about off kids and picking them up at each school. Each school has its own rules and etiquette.

4. Picking kids up after school is more problematic than before school. People drop off their kids at different times in the morning, but pick up time is when everyone gets out.

5. Always remember that pedestrians have the right of way.

6. There is a high probability that high school kids will show off when driving their cars. Teen age boys may do slightly riskier things–like squealing their tires pulling away, but both boys and girls may be problem drivers. Teach your teenagers to be responsible.

7. No one under 18 can use a cell phone in any way while driving.

8. Remind your teenage driver with a school permit that the permit only allows them to drive to school and back the shortest way possible. They can’t stop to visit friends, go to the grocery story, or deviate any way from their path. Officer Orr says that every year someone loses their school driving permit.

9. Teach your kids not to get into cars with strangers, or with anyone that they are not supposed to ride with.

10. Have expectations for your kids and most kids will try to meet them. No expectations–well, you know what will happen then.

Thanks much to Patrolman Orr for the interview. Here it is in it’s entirety.