Deerfield Elementary School is the first school in Coffee County to induct a safety patrol. Twelve fifth graders stepped up and took the vow to keep their classmates safe in the school during an induction ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 7. All of the county school resource officers (SRO) and members of the Coffee County Sheriff Department attended as well.
The safety patrol is in charge of helping people cross the street safety during pickup and drop-off times, assist with bus loading and unloading, foster safe pedestrian skills in their classmates and builds leadership skills and good citizenship skills.
Deerfield’s safety patrol members are Maddie McClusky, Landan Abellana, Amy Wrenn, Sophia Seiling, Olivia Harris, Helen Everett, Matt Hill, Baylor Dendy, Elijah Teal, Gracie Alford, McKenzie Davis and Yeidi Cruz.
"The Safety Patrol escorts students to and from their vehicles in the morning and afternoon,” said Deerfield SRO Hassan Peterson. “While escorting, they are making decisions to be safe for themselves and for the student they are escorting. While it may seem small, it really is teaching them to be concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their fellow man.
“They are in charge of leading the Pledge of Allegiance and moment of silence every morning,” he added. “They are also an extra pair of eyes and ears. If they witness bullying or unsafe acts they are obligated to report the issue to staff. During the recent Veteran’s Day celebration, four safety patrol officers folded the flag exactly the way I folded it when I was in the army.”
Peterson was the driving force behind this program. When he became the school's SRO, he wanted to implement the safety patrol into Deerfield right away. He was a safety patrol officer in fifth grade, which is what ignited his passion for law enforcement, Peterson explained during the ceremony.
“It really is rewarding seeing the program in motion. I didn’t expect the program to be received as well as it has by parents, students, and school personnel,” Peterson said. “I think the biggest sense of reward occurred when the Safety Patrol Officers pinned their badge. They stood a little bit taller. It reminded me of when I first pinned my badge in law enforcement.”
The next school to follow suit with a Safety Patrol is East Coffee. It is unknown as of press time when they will be starting their program. All county schools have the chance to start a safety patrol – the decision to have one is at the discretion of the schools’ principal.
About the safety patrol
Sponsored by AAA, the school began the safety patrol at no cost. AAA provided all of the necessary equipment, including the neon yellow sashes, ponchos and hats for the students to ensure they are visible in all weather conditions and times of day. Every student goes through online training and is trained on the job by the program’s overseer.
AAA agent Megan Cooper explained children between the ages of 5 and 14 are at the highest risk for pedestrian injury, which is why AAA began the safety patrol program in 1920.
“It instills good traffic and pedestrian habits at a young age,” Cooper said.
The 12 Deerfield officers join the 654,000 safety patrol students nationwide.