WESTFIELD, NJ — A crossing guard shortage has kept police officers busy filling in, something local authorities anticipate will change as a national company is brought in to handle crossing guard services here.

The Town Council this week approved a contract with All City Management Services of Santa Fe Springs, California, for crossing guard services, authorizing up to $609,496 for the purpose beginning next month and continuing through June of next year. The new firm will pay existing crossing guards now employed by the local police department.

“It will actually allow us and the officers to get back to doing traffic enforcement because right now, during the school hours, our manpower is directed toward the crossing guards,” said Police Chief Chris Battiloro, speaking to the council on Tuesday.

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Town Administrator Jim Gildea said it would take two months to bring the management company on board to help fill the municipality’s approximately 52 crossing guard posts.

“It’s always our program,” he said. “We’re just asking someone to run it for us.” The municipality and the All City Management Services will send a joint letter to residents notifying the public of the change, Gildea told the council.

All City Management Services says on its website that it has over 33 years of experience and runs about 260 programs across some 25 states.

“We assume complete responsibility for recruiting, hiring, training, managing, background clearance, payroll, providing substitutes, supervision, investigating complaints, problem resolution and communicating with schools, cities and all stakeholders,” the company says.

Ridgewood hired All City Management Services beginning in 2016, a report by NorthJersey.com then said.

Similar to in Westfield, Ridgewood police had then said that vacant crossing guard posts requiring police attention were keeping officers from some more important law enforcement duties, The Ridgewood News reported.

Mayor Shelley Brindle said filling the crossing guard posts has become increasingly difficult due to changing needs and the availability of eligible workers.

“We are contracting with a third party, who specializes in managing crossing guard programs around the country to set us up for long-term success, while also increasing crossing guard benefits — including raising their hourly rate, providing paid snow days, new uniforms and equipment, and professional training,” Brindle said. “None of our current crossing guards will lose their current posts.”

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh

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