Sage Canyon’s Safety Patrol wins award for work keeping drivers in line

The Sage Canyon Safety Patrol with San Diego Police Officers Brooks Rhoads and Robert Briggs and teacher adviser Shauna Friedemann.
The Sage Canyon Safety Patrol with San Diego Police Officers Brooks Rhoads and Robert Briggs and teacher adviser Shauna Friedemann.
(Karen Billing)

The Sage Canyon School Safety Patrol works hard every school day, making sure students can safely cross the street before and after the bell rings. The group was recently recognized for their efforts with a special Best Safety Patrol Award from the San Diego Police Department’s Northwestern Division. Sixth-grader Keller Elswick was also nominated for Major, which is the highest rank achievable in the Safety Patrol.

“We keep kids and parents safe,” Keller said.

The San Diego Police Department established Safety Patrol in 1935. Juvenile services team officers train and supervise the students to control pedestrian and vehicle traffic and report traffic violations.

The 25 students on the patrol work drop-off and pick-up time at school in their red uniforms, armed with whistles and long-armed stop signs.

“The students work tirelessly and have a good time serving,” said teacher adviser Shawna Friedemann.

The work isn’t always easy.

Sixth-grader Zander Samarasinghe said even though they are young patrol officers, they have been yelled at by adult drivers. A woman once yelled at Zander for not letting her go; he responded calmly as he was trained to do, and took down her license plate number for a citation to give to San Diego Police officers. Repeat offenders can get notices from the police officers.

“I’m helping out the school,” said Zander. “A lot of the younger kids look up to me.”

Sixth-grader Shayan Azmoodeh shared Zander’s view about taking their role seriously and making sure people follow the rules and that everybody stays safe.

“I like to be responsible, and I like being like a police officer because we help a lot of people,” Shayan said.

Every Tuesday they meet for inspection with the police officers, lining up and getting advice on what they can improve.

“I wanted to do it because it’s fun, and all the little kids look up to you,” said sixth-grader Taylor Ang. “It’s fun to be in control in the crosswalk.”

Taylor said sometimes people don’t obey their stop signs and want to speed through. She said there have been times when kids have come close to being hit. She said after school, when she’s trying to wave parents through, she also notices a lot of parents talking or texting on their cellphones and not paying attention.

“Nothing has ever happened, so I guess that’s pretty good,” Taylor said.

Taylor said her advice for people driving near school zones is to drive the speed limit, drive carefully and stay off their cellphones.


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