Back to School 2016
Back to School – Safe Travels and a New School Resource Officer
School starts next week and I can’t think of a better time to remind everyone of bike and pedestrian safety than the beginning of a new school year. During the last few years, our community has experienced the unthinkable more than once—pedestrians hit in the crosswalk. Before you send your kids off to school this year, or before you go out and about as a driver trying to ensure the safety of students traveling to and from school, please take a minute to review these safety tips.
For kids walking to school:
Watch Out. When crossing a street, look for cars and cross only when it is safe.
Be Seen. Sometimes drivers can’t see you. The law requires cars to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but always make eye contact with drivers while you’re in a crosswalk to make sure they see you.
Walk Defensively. Drivers can be distracted, their view may be blocked, or they may not see you. If you’re not sure you’ve been seen, stop and wait for the car to pass.
Pay Attention. Please put your phone and ear buds away, so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend on it!
For drivers sharing the road with bicyclists:
Allow extra space. If possible, give a bicyclist at least 3-4 feet of space when passing.
Slow down. Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a bicyclist.
Keep your eyes open. Bikes can be hard to see, especially in your blind spots.
Be extra cautious around kids. Expect the unexpected when you see a kid on a bicycle.
If parents share only one thing with kids riding bikes to school, it should be to take the advice of experienced cyclists: ride defensively! Because no matter how right bicyclists are, they can still be injured or killed by a motorist in the wrong. A great place for kids (and their parents) to learn more about bicycle safety is www.bicyclesafe.com.
If anything good can come from terrible pedestrian and bicycle accidents, it is to remind us all of the importance of driving cautiously in school zones and of teaching our kids how to protect themselves in crosswalks. Parents, please take some time before school starts to review these tips with your kids.
Once your students arrive safely at school this year, they will have the opportunity to meet our new School Resource Officer (SRO), Officer Tony DeLapo. Every few years, Ukiah Police Department (UPD) selects a new SRO to provide officers with differing assignments.
Officer DeLapo grew up right here in Ukiah and is a graduate of Ukiah High School. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a military police officer before starting with UPD in December 2012.
I have known Officer DeLapo since he was a young student, and I know he is going to be a fantastic School Resource Officer. He cares deeply about serving kids in our community; routinely volunteering his time as a high school and youth sports coach, and working with kids while out on patrol. On more than one occasion, Officer DeLapo has been found playing pick-up games of stick ball, basketball and other street games with local kids while on patrol. Yep, I think he’s going to be a great SRO.
While Officer DeLapo will spend most of his time at Ukiah High School, he will also serve Pomolita Middle School and Ukiah’s public elementary schools. As the SRO, Officer DeLapo will work with school administrators to discourage illegal behavior on campus and protect the safety of our students. He will be highly visible during breaks and lunch periods, and will patrol local neighborhoods to ensure people drive safely.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.