Back to School
School Zones Ahead!
Before school starts next week, I wanted to take one more opportunity to remind everyone that it’s up to all of us to improve bike and pedestrian safety in our community.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our city has a higher rate of automobile collisions involving injuries and fatalities compared to 108 California cities of similar size to Ukiah. For collisions with pedestrians, Ukiah was ranked the 18th most dangerous city; and for collisions with bicyclists, Ukiah was ranked the 41st most dangerous city.
Clearly, we have work to do to make our community safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. Please slow down and pay attention, especially as school zones fill up with kids heading back to school.
Here are a few safety points I think every kid should know:
- Watch Out. When crossing a street, look for cars and cross only when it is safe.
- Be Seen. Sometimes drivers can’t see you. The law requires cars to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but always make eye contact with drivers while you’re in a crosswalk to make sure they see you.
- Walk Defensively. Drivers can be distracted, their view may be blocked, or they may not see you. Unless you’re sure you’ve been seen, stop and wait for the car to pass.
- Pay Attention. Please put your phone and ear buds away, so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend on it!
And for drivers sharing the road with our kids returning to school, please:
- Allow some extra space. Give our kids as much space as possible when passing.
- Slow down. Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Keep your eyes open. Kids can be hard to see, especially near intersections and crosswalks.
- Be extra cautious around kids. Expect the unexpected when you see kids walking or biking to school.
If anything good can come from the terrible pedestrian and bicycle accidents we have experienced in the past few years, it is to remind us of the importance of driving cautiously in school zones and teaching our kids how to protect themselves in crosswalks and on bicycles.
Here at the Ukiah Police Department (UPD), we want to do all we can to improve bike and pedestrian safety, so you will see our officers patrolling around the schools. We hope that when people see our officers, they’ll be reminded to slow down and drive safely, because no matter where you are driving in Ukiah, there is a school zone ahead.
Our School Resource Officers
In addition to patrolling our streets, UPD plans to keep students safe by partnering with Ukiah Unified School District again this year. Officer Tony DeLapo will return to work at Ukiah High School in his second year as a school resource officer. Officer DeLapo grew up in Ukiah and attended Ukiah High, and he does a fantastic job keeping our schools safe.
We are also very extremely excited to announce the addition of a second school resource officer, Officer Isabel Madrigal. Officer Madrigal has been with our department for 4 ½ years. She has worked as a patrol officer and a detective, and she is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Officer Madrigal cares deeply about serving kids in our community and has worked hard to become an expert investigator for sexual assault and gang-related cases. I know, based on her work, she will do a great job keeping our schools safe.
Officer Madrigal will have a regular office at Pomolita Middle School, and she will also serve at Ukiah High School and Ukiah’s public elementary schools. Officer Madrigal will work with school administrators to discourage truancy and school absences, reduce the impacts of drugs and gangs on campus, and protect the safety of our students.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.