Operation Safe Passage: Protecting Sandy children for 10 years
Sep 07, 2018 03:04PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Operation Safe Passage is a program that recruits volunteers to monitor streets while students go to and from school. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
These days public schools have a number of programs and policies designed to keep students safe, from anti-bullying initiatives to resource officers and more. But what about when the school day ends and students leave school property? That’s when Operation Safe Passage steps in.
Operation Safe Passage was developed by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and has spread to other cities that have adapted it to fit their needs, said Dawn Black, who has operated the program out of the Sandy Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit for 10 years.
The program recruits volunteers from the area to actively monitor the streets during the hours students go to and from school.
The goal of the volunteers is to “prevent abductions and attempted abductions, enhance pedestrian safety along safe walking routes, and reduce opportunities for bullies to intimidate other children,” according to an Operation Safe Passage brochure.
“They’re another set of eyes and ears for us out in the community,” said Black.
One of the challenges for the program is recruiting enough volunteers.
“Considering how long we’ve been operating, a lot of people still don’t know about us or know what we do,” said Black.
Many volunteers also only stay for a few years at a time because they stop when their child graduates from elementary to middle school.
This year, Black said there are already 25 volunteers ready to go, but they’re hoping for a lot more. “We’ll take as many as we can get,” she said.
Black also said that volunteering for the program doesn’t necessarily have to add any extra time commitments to parents’ already busy schedules, since parents already walk to pick their children up from school anyway. The program just gives them the tools to help promote public safety while they go about their regular routine.
After undergoing a background check, volunteers go through various trainings so they will know what to do in the event of various scenarios, such as a child abduction. Once their training is complete, volunteers are given a badge and green vest that identify them as an Operation Safe Passage volunteer so the children know they can be trusted.
Those who are willing to volunteer for the 2018–2019 school year can fill out an application form found on the Sandy city website by searching “Operation Safe Passage application.”