Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Jim Chu revealed today that, like hundreds of other students across Vancouver, he has worn the uniform of a School Safety Patroller.
Chief Constable Chu joined Mayor Gregor Robertson and Board of Education Chairperson Patti Bacchus at Franklin Elementary School to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Vancouver School Safety Patrol.
Chu said he was a patroller in the 1970s while attending Wolfe Elementary School, and related his experience to an assembly of more than 170 Kindergarten to Grade 7 students in Franklin Elementary's library.
He recalled how one day he and a fellow student were watched during their shift Vancouver Police officer sitting in his car.
"I felt it was important to stand up straight and hold up my sign as solidly as I could," Chu told the students, explaining that he felt he was being reviewed. Chu said that for his efforts he and his partner were awarded with chocolate bars from the police officer who was impressed by their efforts.
Chu wasn't named a captain in his school's safety patrol, but accepted an offer from Bacchus to be the honourary captain for school safety patrollers for the day.
Mayor Robertson proclaimed March 1 "Vancouver School Safety Patroller Day" in recognition of the more than 1,300 students from 37 elementary schools who volunteer each school year to help guard busy intersections near schools.
Vancouver school staff work with Vancouver Police and City of Vancouver on a range of school traffic safety issues including the School Safety Patrol Program. The safety initiative was started by the Vancouver Board of Education and the Vancouver Police in 1935 after a tragic traffic accident that killed two children on their way to school.
In her comments, Bacchus spoke about the important history of the program saying "Although this program was born from tragedy, it is because of the efforts of Franklin's patrollers, and their fellow patrollers across Vancouver, that thankfully other tragedies have been prevented."
Bacchus noted that when the program was launched in 1935 it was called the "School Boy Patrol" because only boys were involved, but by 1956 girls joined and the name was changed to "School Safety Patrol."
Franklin Elementary School's School Safety Patrollers pictured on March 1, 2011
Mayor Robertson quizzed the students and asked them: "How many of you think your streets are safer because of the School Safety Patrol?"
As the mayor watched the entire assembly raise their hands, he said: "You are correct. It's very important to have eyes on the street at intersections, preventing accidents, and keeping streets safe for bikers and walkers. Those of you who are involved in the patrol are doing a great job in the community."
Patrollers are from grades 5 to 7 and are trained by the Vancouver Police traffic section to help students cross safely at intersections near Vancouver schools. Teachers in each school act as patroller sponsors and oversee the teams
The Vancouver School Safety Patrol Program is the longest operating student safety patrol program in BC, and the largest school district based patrol program in BC.
For more information and to view archival photos drawn from 75 years of the Vancouver School Safety Patrol go to the Vancouver School Board Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VancouverSchoolBoard