Police have better things to do than stand in as crossing guards
We’re always hearing that Toronto police are stretched thin and desperately in need of more boots on the street.
So why are officers working as crossing guards?
After the Danzig St. shootout in July, police cancelled vacations and redeployed officers to at-risk neighbourhoods, to muster the presence needed to reassure citizens and send a stern message to would-be shooters.
The force had to come up an extra $2 million to cover the overtime costs and ended the project just last week, with Chief Bill Blair saying he wished it could be extended.
So when I approached a pedestrian crossing on Queen St., near Greenwood Ave. about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and saw a police officer step out in front of my car to stop traffic for kids, it had me wondering about priorities.
It is far from the first time I’ve seen police handling crossing guard duties, which always raises sthe question of why a better contingency plan hasn’t been devised.
A lot of people think crossing guards are community volunteers but they are trained and paid for their twice-a-day duties, which is only fair.
If they get sick or a personal emergency arises on short notice, the local police division is called and asked to send an officer as a temporary replacement.
If the officer’s time is as valuable as we’ve been told – and there is no reason to think it isn’t – shouldn’t we be using someone other than a cop as a backup?
Surely a replacement from the community could also herd children across the street; the job and the training cannot be all that demanding.
And if it’s a matter of cost, whatever crossing guards are paid has to be less than the cost of deploying a police officer.
Besides, there is only one taxpayer, and that’s us.