Akron gives crossing guards more power to help cite drivers in 10-year-old’s memory

AKRON, Ohio -- Drivers who violate laws in school zones can now be cited by police in the city of Akron based on the testimony of crossing guards.

Inspired by the memory of Tony Swain, who was hit and killed at a school crossing near Glover Elementary School in 2005, city council named the new law after the 10-year-old.

The boy was struck after pushing his sister out of the way of a car at the intersection of Lovers Lane and Hammel Street. The driver who hit him was never identified.

His death was the catalyst for the city rotating portable cameras through school crossings.

On Monday, Akron City Council went one step further, giving crossing guards the same authority that the state of Ohio has given to bus drivers.

"Basically, what they can do is, when they see a vehicle driving through the intersection that is disobeying their right to try to cross these children safely with their stop sign up in the air, they can get the vehicle description, the description of the driver, if necessary, and the license plate number, and turn it over to the Akron Police Department. Then Akron police can investigate and possible citations can be issued," said Councilman Donnie Kammer.

Previously, a police officer would have to be there to witness the violation before they could write a citation.

Crossing guards like Lana Long, who helps kids cross the street outside of Glover Elementary School, believe it is a good thing.

"Well, I have a pen and a pencil in my pocket here and if I see somebody speeding or not stopping, I can get their license plate and turn them in," said Long, who believes that just knowing she is able to do that may make drivers behave.

Akron Police Chief James Nice said he also believes it is a good idea.

"Our school crossing guards work for the police department. They are employees of the city and employees of the police department, and it's nice for them to have that authority," Nice said.

"Police officers can't be everywhere at all times so if certain people have positions that have that level of authority, they've been vetted when they get hired, they should be able to give them some level of authority for the city," he said.

Long said most drivers by Glover Elementary already obey the laws and are careful at the intersections.

But Kammer said he hopes this additional help will send a message to those who are not as courteous.

"The word is we have to be cautious of a school zone, we just have to slow down," Kammer said.

Glover Elementary School