RICHMOND, Va. -- The student pick-up and drop-off process can be a bit chaotic before and after school. The combination of cars and kids can also be dangerous. Kate Foster, whose daughter attends Fox Elementary in Richmond's Fan District, knows how serious the matter can be.
"It was about time we did something about it," Foster said. "I didn’t realize how bad the situation was until I started paying attention."
In the past, cars and SUVs would converge outside Fox Elementary, on Hanover Avenue, spilling boys and girls out onto the sidewalk and street.
"The biggest thing is that there was no formalized drop-off process in the morning," Foster said. "We had people randomly parking cars. Illegal cars parked."
A situation that led to a close call with her daughter Emma.
"It is very dangerous. In fact, the reason I started this process is because my daughter and I almost got hit by a car," Foster said.
So this summer Foster and the Parent Teacher Association at Fox devised an orderly plan of action. Now every morning about 45 minutes before the first bell, parents and students prepare for the arrival of the student body.
The group places fluorescent cones along the street. The cones create a lane where parents and guardians can safely drop off their children. Kate’s all-volunteer parent effort grabbed the attention of someone who knows the streets well.
Traffic Officer Robert Jones, a 35-year veteran of the Richmond Police Department, shows up most mornings and afternoons on his own.
"This was the PTA’s idea," he said. "The police department did not come up with this. We’re just here to help them."
Foster said Sgt. Jones is a godsend providing good-natured guidance and a ticket or two if drivers do not comply with the law in front of the school.
"I’m responsible for every child walking. Every car driving," Officer Jones said.
Respect between Officer Jones and parents is a two-way street.
"The kids absolutely adore him. They have fallen in love with him," Foster said. "If it wasn’t for him it wouldn’t be a drop off process."
"They gave me a large card saying we love you Mr. Jones and all of the kids and parents signed it. It was for my birthday and I appreciated that," Jones said. "I told them as long as they are out here I’ll be out here with them."
Jones’ dedication does not go unnoticed by his biggest fans.
"Officer Jones is awesome," Kate’s daughter Emma said.
A parent-police partnership keeping the streets of Richmond safe, one child at a time. Officer Jones said he would like to introduce the drop-off process at other schools across the city.
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