Salt Lake City working to offer safe passage to students
SALT LAKE CITY — Getting to school safely is the goal behind the Salt Lake City Safe Passage Initiative. It’s a program that Salt Lake City leaders, police, and schools have all joined as school begins for the Salt Lake City School District this week.
Part of the initiative includes beefed-up police patrols around three Salt Lake City district schools, and not just by police. Parent volunteers are a part of that plan, too. Backman Elementary principal Matthew Teitter said it’s not necessarily crime that has them concerned.
“We’ve had instances where there’s been drug paraphernalia or people camping out and changing, public bathing, things associated with those types of incidents,” Teitter said.
“Those type of activities make people feel unsettled, unsafe.”
Salt Lake City Safe Passage Initiative intended to be proactive
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says the Safe Passage Initiative is a way to get in front of a problem before it starts.
“Simply put, young students shouldn’t have to worry about getting to school safely and, in turn, their parents shouldn’t have to worry about their kids being in a potentially unsafe space,” said Mayor Mendenhall.
“This is not an indication of a rise in crime in these areas, but rather a proactive effort to ensure our children are safe when they return to school.”
The focus is on three schools — Jackson Elementary, Backman Elementary, and Horizonte Training and Instruction Center. Marked patrol officers will be much more visible, and police will make themselves available for traffic education and enforcement, bike, and walking patrol, too.
How long will the initiative last?
How long the patrols will last, will depend.
“It’s definitely this first week,” Teitter said. “From there it’s going to be on an as needed basis.”
Teitter said police told him it will depend on the needs of the school as to how long the patrol lasts, and when it may return.
“Our school, in particular, we’re opening up a new bridge this year. Bridges tend to, sometimes, attract the unsheltered. So we’re going to be monitoring the situation. The city has assured us they will be closely monitoring the situation as well,” Teitter said.
Backman Elementary is near Redwood Road and 600 N. Teitter said parents have long been concerned about student safety because of the busy road, and that the bridge will provide a safer commute.
The first day of classes for the Salt Lake City School District is Tuesday, August 30.
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