Full Story: Police Target School Zone Drivers
POSTED: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:17pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 7:19pm
EL PASO - Surprised by lights. Our cameras were rolling this morning as police pulled over dozens of drivers in Northeast El Paso.
As the sun rises over the Borderland, children walk to school and drivers commute to work. It's a busy time for police, and a dangerous time for children.
"Our ultimate goal and the reason why we're out here is to remind the public that safety comes first, especially for our school children," Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Elizabeth Barney said.
This morning State Troopers and El Paso Police rolled out an operation to target drivers in one Northeast El Paso school zone. They targeted the area around Tom Lea Elementary School because neighbors were concerned that cars weren't stopping for children in the crosswalk.
"I see individuals drive and not stop and just dart out, and that's my biggest concern because you have a lot of kids walking up that way," parent Catherine Ignacio said.
"They seem to be in a big hurry. I've even had issues where I'd be crossing the street myself and the drivers will be going across the crosswalk as I'm crossing the street," Parent Susanne Moore said.
"We've noticed two or three close calls with within the past week, and this has been going on for about two months now," neighbor Sgt. Major Russel McLeod said.
That's not all. Officers say drivers are also making other mistakes like failing to stop for a school bus that's loading or unloading children, and of course some are speeding in the school zone.
"It's best that they slow down because the fines are pretty hefty. It can be up to a thousand dollars," Barney said.
We asked some drivers who were pulled over to talk with us, but none of them were willing to go on camera.
It surprised drivers to see so many officers in their neighborhood this morning, but their presence was more than welcome by concerned parents.
"I feel much calmer not having to worry about kids getting hit by drivers," Ignacio said.
In all, officers handed tickets to more than two dozen drivers near the school this morning. Now neighbors are hoping that drivers get the strong message that police delivered.
"These kids while crossing the street need to be protected, be on the lookout for kids crossing the street at any minute because they're small elementary school children," Sgt. Major McLeod said.
Watch local 4 news at 5:30 and 10pm to see the video.
Don't be surprised if you see taillights in the back of your review mirror. DPS says they may target other school zones in the Borderland if people don't get the message.
By the way, it is National School Bus Safety Week.