Traffic Enforcement Near School Prompts NAACP Complaint

Jackie Valley, Las Vegas Sun, September 1, 2010

Metro Police issued 92 traffic-related citations across the Las Vegas Valley on Monday as part of an annual effort to boost safety near schools. But the operation prompted a complaint by the NAACP.

The NAACP alleged that jaywalking tickets handed out to parents near Kermit R. Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School unfairly penalized people who live in a low-income area.

NAACP officials, who are demanding the tickets be dismissed, said in a statement that “the actions of Metro officers have tainted the memory of this day for many parents and children at Booker.”

Metro, however, said it is simply targeting schools that have a history of traffic-related problems.

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Faulis [Lt. John Faulis of Metro’s traffic bureau] said officers issued 14 jaywalking tickets Monday, including four near Booker, along Martin Luther King Boulevard in west Las Vegas. {snip}

“With the start of school, one of our No. 1 priorities in the traffic bureau is to keep kids safe,” Faulis said. “People all over the summer, they’re used to driving a little bit faster and not having to pay attention to school zones.”

But Richard Boulware, chairperson of NAACP’s legal redress committee, said police should have notified school officials about the enforcement so they could have warned parents, he said.

Plus, Boulware said the symbolism of minority children witnessing police giving their parents tickets on the first day of school works against efforts to create a “strong relationship between the minority community and the police department.”

{snip}

The NAACP said Booker parents think using the crosswalk parallel to Martin Luther King Boulevard is more dangerous than crossing directly in front of the school, where there tends to be less traffic.

Faulis, however, urged pedestrians to use the crosswalks because traffic engineering studies have determined them to be the safest place to cross the street. He also pointed out that of 50 traffic-related fatalities this year, 17 have been pedestrians.

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