As a parent of a Great Bend Middle School student, I feel as though the Great Bend Police Department has made dropping off kids in the morning a total nightmare. At the beginning of the year, the process was quick, and all the parents watched out for children at the crosswalk. A friendly police officer stood at the steps and greeted the students as they walked into the school. If a student were to try to shoot up the school, I believe the officer would have a good chance of stopping them.
Then the officer was gone from the steps. Instead of protecting the children, he started pulling over cars and writing tickets. Rather than crossing at the cross walk, kids began jaywalking so their parents could avoid getting pulled over. It has become dangerous for kids crossing anywhere they can, instead of at the designated crosswalks where we all watched out for them.
I had wondered why people were getting pulled over for dropping off their kids, along the curb on the east side of Harrison, so that the kids could cross at the crosswalk. The signs clearly state, “No Parking between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.” yet drop-off time is before 8 a.m. and the red and blue lights are still flashing. I continued to drop off my daughter there, since I was doing nothing unlawful.
This morning, I was the lucky one to be pulled over. The officer stated I could not park within 15 feet of the crosswalk, or within 15 feet of the private driveways. My $25 ticket states that I violated section 85 of the Standard Traffic Ordinance (STO). So, I consulted Google.
If you do a quick Google search for “Standard Traffic Ordinance,” the first result covers all Kansas cities. Skip down to page 80 and 81 to read all about Section 85. The crosswalk in front of the Great Bend Middle School is not at an intersection. Is it illegal to park within 20 feet of it before 8 a.m.? No. Is there any law against parking any distance from a private drive? No. Even if there was, article (b) clearly exempts momentarily picking up or discharging a passenger or passengers.
I say we put the officer back on the school steps as security and a friendly presence for our kids, instead of harassing law-abiding parents dropping off their kids. We need our kids to know it is illegal and unsafe to jaywalk and get them back in the crosswalk where they belong. Our kids need to know that police officers are there to protect them, instead of the GBPD portraying themselves as enemies of the people like they are trying to achieve.