With another school year just around the corner, taking more precautions when driving in town with school in session is essential. Not only is safety a significant priority for children, but the Crookston Police Department also wants the children to engage with officers who may visit their respective buildings.

Crookston residents may have noticed the time and money spent by the Crookston police department on crosswalks in school zones, particularly on Fisher Avenue and Central Avenue. “We targeted our highest child pedestrian areas where we felt they would be most utilized,” said Police Officer Don Rasicot, “You’ll see this by the blinking lights and when a child meets that.” With these additions over the last two years, the police department believes it has not only prevented pedestrian accidents but also has raised awareness for pedestrians, specifically during the school year.

Rasicot is the S.R.O. of the Crookston school district and is responsible for six schools (three public and three private). Aside from having the S.R.O. monitoring the buildings, the community is looking to have extra patrolmen on duty. “We will have extra patrol men during the mornings and afternoons, especially for the first month of school when parents and kids are getting acclimated to the new school year,” said Rasicot.

There will also be extra patrol men on duty for traffic enforcement before and after school. Day shift officers also have the opportunity to engage with children while on school grounds. “I have an open invitation to our day shift officers to come into the school and eat lunch with the children,” said Rasicot, “It’s nice when they just come in and roam the halls and open those conversations and have that high visibility to the kids. I want the students to know all our officers by their first name.” Rasicot believes these types of interactions are beneficial to the community, students, and officers.

The Crookston Police Department recently received a grant from the state of Minnesota to purchase state-of-the-art stop arm cameras attached to the school buses. “All of our school buses are now equipped with the stop arm cameras that will take pictures of any vehicles running a deployed stop arm,” said Rasicot, “That allows us to identify and enforce stop arm violations.”

Not to mention, all buses are equipped with audio and video footage that can capture every moment of every bus ride to ensure safety for all children. “I just want our parents and kids to know that you are safe and secure once you give your children over to us. We take that responsibility very seriously,” said Rasicot, “They are constantly protected through the inside of the bus and now on the outside of the bus with the stop arm camera.’

The 2023 school year kicks off on Tuesday, September 5, after Labor Day. Rasicot wanted to give a message to the community on behalf of himself and the Crookston Police Department. “Please, be more cognizant of your distracted driving, of your speed, and more pedestrians and bicyclists out there,” said Rasicot, “If you are in or around a school zone, be very alert and aware of kids.”