Pittsfield Police Advisory Keeping Eye On PHS Traffic, Jaywalking

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Police Advisory Committee again addressed issues of traffic and jaywalking at Pittsfield High School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Police Advisory Committee is hoping the installation of a fence down the center of East Street will stop jaywalking in front of Pittsfield High School.

It has been six months since the committee called together the mayor and school officials seeking solutions to what they see is a problem.

"The fence at least funnels them into the crosswalk area," said member Katie Roucher. "I think we should move forward with the fence and encourage school officials to keep the kids aware."

The committee is still keeping eyes on the issue. For some time, students were behaving better after school officials made a dedicated effort to addressing it. But, PAC members say both jaywalking and traffic congestion are back.

On Monday, committee members again discussed the issue but the extent of their oversight limits what they can do. Member Donald Bercury suggested asking the mayor to budget for a police officer to be in the area for a half hour in the mornings.

But his suggestion was rebuffed because the committee doesn't have the authority to direct police operations — including the deployment of staff. Further, Police Chief Michael Wynn said it would be impossible to have an officer come in for just 30 minutes because of contractual issues and using the department's resources isn't justified.

"We know there is a problem with kids darting out into traffic. We know there is a problem with dropping off," Wynn said.

But, "there is not an enforcement-related thing that we can do."

Wynn has previously said jaywalking offenses carry little to no consequences and that parents would rather take the small-price ticket to stay in no-parking zones during pickup hours.

An extra officer wouldn't help much, he said, and with a limited number of patrol officers available, the crime data shows they should be deployed elsewhere.

"We can't justify the deployment of resources based on the data we've gotten," he said.

The only solutions would be to completely reduce traffic or engineering changes such as the implementation of a fence.

The real onus, the committee determined, is on the school to keep pressure on the students to do things properly. However, the school is limited in its capacity because only few employees are available to assist with traffic. Further, the school doesn't have the capacity in the cafeteria to close the campus to address lunchtime issues.

The committee members considered calling another meeting with school officials, but at this point, they had heard the city's Community Development Department is looking at a fence. With summer vacation on its way, the committee said it will wait to see what the fencing does to alleviate the jaywalking aspect.

"It really wouldn't stop jaywalking but it would control jaywalking," Bercury said. "They would only be able to jaywalk in the crosswalk."

Tags: advisory committee,   jaywalking,   police advisory,   

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