EXCLUSIVE: City Recruits School Crossing Guards To Write Parking Tickets Over Summer Break

Program Adds 50-75 New Ticket Writers To The Street

Every morning, children who walk to school are familiar with the smiling, friendly faces and the outstretched arms of their local crossing guard who get them safely to class each day during the school year .

But what do crossing guards do  when school’s out for summer?

At least some of the friendly faced school crossing guards are spending their summer vacation writing parking tickets to Chicago drivers on behalf of the city.

It began as a pilot program last summer,  and  as a way to give crossing guards,  unable to get  one of the rare summer school crossing guard positions, a way to continue to bring in a paycheck when school was finished in June, according to Crossing Guard Coordinator John Maciezjewski, a retired police officer. This year it’s been rolled out city wide to give summer employment opportunities to the over 1,100 crossing guards working for the city.

Just Looking To Work

“Summer jobs are not plentiful,” says 23rd District (Town Hall) Crossing Guard Supervisor Irene Jurewicz. “And some of them (crossing guards) are left with no work at all. Crossing guards get no vacation time, no sick time. For most of them it’s not what they want to do at all.”

5th District (Calumet) Crossing Guard Supervisor Joyce Banks concurs with Jurewicz about crossing guards needing the work.

“If there’s nothing (a job) awarded when they bid (for the job) they do it (take the ticket writing position),” says Banks. “They look at it as a job.”

According to 25th District (Grand Central) Crossing Guard Supervisor John Jambrosek, the priority is to make sure there are enough crossing guard positions for the schools hosting summer school, before allowing crossing guards to work writing parking tickets. In fact, the west side police district does not have any crossing guards writing violations this year.

“We didn’t have enough crossing guards to fill summer school duties,” says Jambrosek who doesn’t have any participating crossing guards this year. “Our main priority is to fill all the school crossing positions. In some districts they have fewer schools open for crossing guards. In this district we were eight short.”

Crossing guards have to spend a day in ticket writing training at the Chicago Police Academy before they’re issued their ticket books and assigned either a four hour morning shift from 6-10 AM  or an evening shift from 3-7 PM. The crossing guard ticket writing season parallels the six weeks of the city’s summer school session.

Jurewicz says the four ticket writing crossing guards she oversees are issuing the run-of-the-mill type parking violations.

“They just do parkers, not movers (moving violations),” says Jurewicz. “(They write) the obvious ones–street cleaning, tow zones, no parking anytime, expired meters, expired license plates.”

Crossing Guard Program Generates Big Money For City

Each of Chicago’s 25 police districts are allowed up to  six ticket writing crossing guards for the summer, which would add a theoretical maximum of 150 more ticket writers to the several hundred city employees already writing tickets across the city. This include close to 200 Parking Enforcement Aides for the Department of Revenue, Traffic Management Aides,  SERCO, the private parking enforcement company contracted by the city and ticket writers hired by LAZ Parking which enforce parking meter violations on behalf of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.

“Some (districts) get more, some (districts) get less,” 19th District (Belmont) Crossing Guard Supervisor Mary Ann Eagan explains how ticket writing crossing guards are distributed between the different police districts. “It goes by seniority.  Some (crossing guards) have small children and decide to stay home for the summer. Others want the work.”

The Chicago Police Department’s News Affairs did not respond to our questions via email and telephone to get a total number of crossing guards issuing tickets. But our survey of a random sampling of police districts estimates 50-75 crossing guards are on the ticket beat for the summer, which over the course of six weeks translates into thousands and thousands of parking violations, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional revenue for a cash starved city. 50 crossing guards writing $50 tickets for six weeks could easily generate a half million dollars to three quarter of a million dollars.

How does the image of the helpful crossing guard, shepherding young children to school square with leaving  hundreds of costly bright orange parking tickets on the windshields of aggravated Chicago motorists?

“It’s a little different for them,” says Town Hall’s  Jurewicz. “At first it was kind of intimidating. They have the perception of helping children get to school. But once they got comfortable they were able to do the job.”

Photo copyright and courtesy of TheeErin’s Flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theeerin/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

13 Responses to EXCLUSIVE: City Recruits School Crossing Guards To Write Parking Tickets Over Summer Break

  1. Capt M Plate says:

    LOL….Spend 1 day at the Police Academy learning to write tickets…

    *Snort*

    7 hours….Not Enough Training for Men and Women that Might be Under the Age of 50 and Think they are the Police.

    My biggest complaint as a traffic aide was that we didn’t receive enough Training for Citation Issuing.

    Revenue PEA’s get a week JUST in a Classroom being trained on the Municipal Code for Beginner Ticket writing 101…and then spend at least 2 weeks riding around with a Supervisor who Checks every ticket before it is allowed to be printed out and put on the vehicle.

    Then the Rookiee PEA follows for at least 2 weeks a Vet PEA writer, whose only job is to make sure the Rookie is Ready for Prime time and working a beat Solo after that.

    You want the Crossing Guards out there doing Parking Enforcement?

    Bullshit. That’s NOT their Job.

    I smell a Grievance from the Union on this

  2. Rinzler says:

    Capt. M, not likely with a grievance. I was walking out with my aldercreature from his office after picking up my truck permit when we saw a crossing guard writing a meter ticket. I asked her since when do they write tickets and was quickly told since last year. The aldercreature brought up the very point of what about the regular ticket writers. She replied she doesn’t know, but it was signed off by the Union during the last contract. The Aldercreature and I looked at each other and just shook our heads and went our seperate ways.

  3. David says:

    This is a good idea IF they also give them the ability to write them during the School Year on their way to their guard shift. It would be WONDERFUL to have someone actually write tickets for all of those cars that park in the drop-off zones for the schools. Its always a pain trying to get a cop to write these kind of tickets and they always want to show “compassion” for these parkers. Which makes no sense, because unlike an expired meter, people parking in the school drop-off zone place people at REAL risk.

  4. Paul says:

    Whats the city going to think when all the guards have to go back to doing cross walk duty when school starts again. They’re probably not going to like the dip in revenue…

  5. Bob Foster says:

    The PEAs should seriously consider ditching their union. First non-union SERCO gets to write tickets, rob you of weekend and night work and now this. I’m sure the union local guys are chuckling as they count the dues money deducted from your paychecks.

  6. Capt M Plate says:

    Bob…..Union Law has this Clause…

    You can ditch a Union with a majority vote…

    BUT…

    For 90 days…you can not belong to any Union.

    So for 90 days (if I remember right) you become a Non-Union, AT WILL Employee…and can be Fired for Any or NO reason.

    In a Municipal Environment like Chicago….No Union employee is willing to risk that.

  7. Bob Foster says:

    Capt: Holy frigging crap Batman! That’s incredible! All I can say is wow… Thanks for the clarification. Please tell me that armed insurrection is still on the table.

  8. DoR Employee says:

    Insurrection with mackerel and pie is always an Option.

  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Guys, I honestly don’t know how this story didn’t blow up into something bigger.

    Let’s first establish, I fully support our crossing guards. And the fact that they need to make a buck during the summer is something I cannot begrudge anyone–especially in these recessionary times.

    But I’m shocked no one else picked up on this story.

    Normally, even our crappy stories get some play in the media or at least at other news websites. This story went NOWHERE!

    But, I have to think that people in Chicago can’t be happy about the fact that those kind ladies helping the kids get to school are writing parking tickets over the summer.

    Maybe I’m just more insane than I originally thought.

  10. DoR Employee says:

    Mike…I concur

    I love the crossing guards…and they serve a purpose.

    But that purpose is NOT parking enforcement.

    If the city needs to have the crossing guards out during the Non-School season…Fine.

    Teach them to Issue ANOV’s for Failure to stop at Crosswalks. They can stand at Crosswalks and wave vehicles over all day in some areas of the city and make serious Revenue….when you consider the fine is between 50 and 500. The City can adjust the ANOV ticket to only need the Plate # and Make of the Vehicle and the city can Mail the Tickets out to the owners.

  11. Rinzler says:

    Good Idea DoR, and we all know every one of those tickets that get mailed will be 100% legit.

  12. Pete says:

    There’s a very good reason why crossing guards, meter maids, traffic “aides” and other non-law-enforcement revenue generators are not allowed to write moving violations. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  13. SS says:

    There’s also a very good reason why crossing guards who lack adequate training should not be allowed to write parking violations. This however has changed.

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