WESTFIELD, NJ — With the municipality’s crossing guard program under new management and the start of school year two days away, traffic safety was a top topic of discussion as the Town Council convened Tuesday.

Police Chief Christopher Battiloro told the council that town officers would continue filling in for crossing guards during the first two weeks of school of as the crossing guards undergo training mandated by All City Management Services, the security firm the municipality hired to run its crossing guard program.

“Until they get up to speed, for the first week or two, you will see some police officers covering posts,” Battiloro said. “We will be out there. We will be assisting.”

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The chief said that the crossing guards need to take the 20 hours of training while on the job, something that they are not able to do when there is no school in session. The guards have been given new gear, including vests and extreme weather gear, Battiloro said. ACMS is also seeking more crossing guards for the program, he said.

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Key among the changes will be that the crossing guards will not be directing traffic as state law does not allow them to do so, officials previously said.

The council had contracted with the security firm All City Management Services because officers tied up filling in for crossing guards were being pulled away from more important police work, Mayor Shelley Brindle said Tuesday.

“Westfield has more than 50 crossing guard posts, which is a very robust program for a municipality of our size,” Brindle said. “Recruiting for and keeping these posts filled every day meant that, increasingly, police officers were serving as crossing guards – significantly impacting our officers’ ability to respond to actual emergencies.”

Brindle said this took the officers away from conducting traffic and parking enforcement when streets are busiest.

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Among the other municipalities in New Jersey to hire All City Management Services have been Ridgewood, in Bergen County, which hired the security firm in 2016 and more recently Wayne, in Passaic County, and Bound Brook, in Somerset County, have signed on with the company.

Discussion of the crossing guard program came on the same evening the Town Council approved the installation of pedestrian-activated crosswalk beacons at three intersections. Per the resolution, the installations are conditioned on Union County’s approval.

If approved, it would bring the number of pedestrian-activated beacons in Westfield to eight, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said.

The new beacons would be installed at the intersection of Cacciola Place and South Avenue, on Rahway Avenue at Gary H. Kehler Stadium and Palsted Avenue at West Broad Street, Gildea said. The new beacons would be installed in three to four weeks, he said.

The council also approved changing yield signs to stop signs at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Mountain Avenue, and the intersection of North Avenue and West Dudley Avenue.

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

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