Shortage of Nassau crossing guards forces police officers to fill in the gaps
There is a shortage of crossing guards in Nassau County, and police officers often are being used to fill the gaps.
Tracey Goulston, a part-time crossing guard in Hewlett, says numbers are down drastically.
She says the issue is that the county stopped hiring full-time crossing guards in 2009.
Part-timers make $25 an hour with no health, dental or retirement benefits.
Police officers have to work at empty intersections where there are not enough crossing guards.
That poses another concern for crime in Nassau.
"You have a cop on a crossing, a cop is mandated to stay at that crossing," Goulston says. "It doesn't matter if down the block there's a car accident and somebody's seriously hurt."
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blake says they are aggressively trying to hire more crossing guards, but he says it is challenging because of low unemployment.
He says the county is going to raise crossing guard wages in order to attract more applicants.
There are 383 crossings in Nassau and 381 crossing guards, according to the police department.
However, Goulston says only around 110 of those crossing guards are full-time.
Part-timers can take a day off for any reason, including bad weather.
"We average between 25 and 35 cops a day on crossings," Goulston says. "If we could start bringing back the full-timers, I think we would definitely hold on to guards and we would see it in the numbers."
Anyone interested in becoming a Nassau County crossing guard can apply here.
Applicants must be a Nassau County resident and have a high school diploma or GED.