Highway Patrol Ramps up Presence Before and After School

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Garrett Gardner, Mirada Staff

Traffic issues in front of the school have recently led Principal Brian Ginter to seek the assistance of the law.

California Highway Patrol officer Chris Kelly responded, stepping in on Aug.18 to put an end to the reckless driving at Rio Americano.

When asked by Ginter to make a presence because of the disrupted flow of traffic and numerous illegal U-turns, CHP officers were surprised to see how “chaotic” the situation was.

“My partner and I responded out there and were surprised to see the number of violations and overall chaos of the traffic situation,” said Kelly. “As a result of my observations, I recruited several more officers to help make a strong presence during dismissal.”

Kelly said he witnessed the broadsiding of a vehicle that took place right behind him, involving an unsafe U-turn.  

The shift in behavior by students and parents is what would be expected as the result of a large law enforcement presence.

“The U-turns were nearly non-existent and there was an overall sense of order and a slower pace on American River Drive,” said Kelly.

Despite all of the infractions, the CHP officers were very generous toward parent and student drivers.

“No citations were issued, just strict warnings,” Kelly said. “The most effective way to resolve this issue is through education and awareness.”

Ginter, based on a suggestion by CHP, sent out emails warning drivers that next time, citations will be issued.

Christian Corona, a senior student at Rio, has noticed the dangerous driving in front of the school. “Nobody is going to make illegal U-turns while police are present, but the officers aren’t always going to be here to regulate the traffic,” said Corona.

The CHP may not be at the school every morning and afternoon, but according to Kelly, they’re just a phone call away.  

Kelly said, “My team will make a presence throughout the school year on an intermittent basis and whenever there is a special request from Mr. Ginter or residents in the area. We have numerous schools within our jurisdiction and presently Rio Americano is near the top of the list as needing the most attention based on what we saw.”

Kelly is a member of the CHP Problem Oriented Policing program (POP). The CHP introduced POP within the North Sacramento region in 2001.  This program is a partnership between the CHP, local law enforcement, governmental agencies, and members of the community to improve the overall quality of life and safety within their neighborhoods.

Traffic improvement is crucial to safety, and will be a priority as long as the student body does its part in making it one.

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