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Weitzel: School is open, so remember – safety first

Community Voice

Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 1:35 p.m. CDT
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Riverside Chief of Police Tom Weitzel.

Schools are back in session and in full swing.

With that in mind, it is time to remind the residents of Riverside and our surrounding communities that motorists who travel through the village need to be cautious and pay special attention when driving near schools.

Parents driving students to school should make every effort to approach the school so that their child can exit from the passenger side of the car, directly onto the campus.

To assist with traffic flow and improve safety, drivers should not make U-turns in residential streets and/or around the schools.

I strongly encourage parents and students to use the available crosswalks and wait for assistance from crossing guards, where available.

It is up to everyone to protect our local children while they are going to and from school, so please slow down and help make this a safe school year.

In addition to traffic, parking and pedestrian safety around schools, it is also time to reiterate safety tips for children who may be engaged by an adult they do not know while walking to school. Recently, Riverside Police Department has had two reports of drivers of vehicles stopping and talking to school-aged children in an inappropriate manner. It is never appropriate for an adult to stop and ask a child for assistance in any way, including directions.

In both Riverside cases, the drivers never got out of their vehicles and/or attempted to physically come in contact with the juvenile. Both incidents were immediately reported to either the school district or the police. Some general observations for walking to and from school with safety in mind would be to try to stay with a group. If a stranger does offer you a ride or ask for directions, just say no and keep walking in the direction of the school or in the direction of your home, if it is at dismissal. Call police immediately when you feel the situation is inappropriate.

In closing, the Riverside Police Department will continue to deploy resources to all school campuses in Riverside when manpower is available. As an agency, we will continue to put the safety of all of Riverside school-aged children first. You have my promise on that.

Tom Weitzel is chief of police in the village of Riverside

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