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Ask a trooper: Watch for school safety patrols

Question: What ever happened to school safety patrol officers? I used to see them in our area and they used to be seen all over the state. Has this program ended? If you know about this can you please write about the school safety patrol program and what is happening with it currently? Thank you!

Answer: There have been some changes with the school patrol training program the past few years, but it is still alive and well. Minnesota is a leader in the school patrol training program. The Minnesota State Patrol and the American Legion are long- time partners in the training of these young folks. Minnesota has the only (known) formal school patrol safety training camp in the country, and perhaps the world, which is located just north of Brainerd in Crow Wing County. It is called Legionville.

Some schools have relocated into more rural areas where the patrols are not needed or required, so we have seen a decline in the number of the schools that are using them. In some areas, adults are being used because of the heavy traffic situation on the roadway system near the schools, which also accounts for the decline. The number of patrollers being trained has also declined a bit for those same reasons, but we still had at least seven weeks of training this summer.

Since school is back in session now, you should be seeing the school safety patrol out doing its job in the mornings and afternoons near the schools. When you see the patrollers flag raised, please know that it's the signal to the motorists that the safety patrol is about to step out and stop traffic. Please be watching for the school patrollers in all areas when near schools. Be prepared to stop when that flag is raised. They will hold it up for a minimum of four seconds, and then step out one step into the street, with the flag held at a 45 degree angle. That is a legal stop sign. Remember to lower your speeds near schools as required.

Watch out for school bus stop arms too. Those violations get reported often and are taken very seriously. We want our children to get to school and home safely every day, so we all need to be paying attention and watching out for them on a daily basis. Drivers have to stop for buses with red flashing upper lights. Also, it is very important for parents to demonstrate and teach safe, street crossing for kids getting on and off the bus, telling them to wait for bus driver to signal it is safe to cross.