WAILUA — Throughout the school year, Junior Police Officers spend their mornings and afternoons ensuring the safety of their fellow students at the majority of Kaua‘i elementary schools.
On Tuesday, about 320 of these JPOs enjoyed a day at the park courtesy of the Kaua‘i Police Department Traffic Unit with help from the Special Resource Officers and the Youth Division. The JPO program is coordinated through the KPD Traffic Safety Unit in partnership with the state Department of Education.
“You folks work hard throughout the year,” said Luke Hamburg, KPD’s Special Resources Officer. “This day is for you, just a little way we can say ‘thank you’ for all you do at the schools while keeping your grades up, learning about traffic and safety and performing your duties as JPO.”
The students also received acknowledgment and thanks for their work from Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry and Deputy Police Chief Michael Contrades. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was scheduled for an appearance but was detained by meetings. However, he was able to visit a few of the kids and their advisers in school buses before they left the park.
Each JPO also was presented with a certificate of appreciation for outstanding service and dedication to the program.
Participating schools include Kekaha Elementary School, ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School, Kalaheo Elementary School, Koloa Elementary School, Elsie Wilcox Elementary School, King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School and Kilauea Elementary School.
The JPO program is offered to fifth-grade students at each of the public elementary schools across the island as part of a statewide effort to assist in protecting the safety of students walking to and from school, states a county release.
Lt. Robert Gausepohl said the annual event is made possible through the help of a lot of people, volunteers from the KPD Traffic Unit, the police department, and more notably, Robert’s Hawai‘i which provided buses to transport the JPOs between their schools and the park.
“This is tremendous,” Gausepohl said. “They’ve been doing this for years. We also appreciate the help of Meadow Gold who provided the Passion Orange Guava juice for all the kids, Lappert’s Hawai‘i for the ice cream dessert and the Office of the Mayor.”
The KPD Traffic officers, trading their safety vests for handing out box lunches and cold drinks, said the JPOs work inside the school and help monitor traffic, help students in and out of cars to expedite traffic and perform other tasks to move traffic while helping students safely navigate the parking lots and drop-off lanes.
School crossing guards are employed by the County of Kaua‘i and assist the students in crossing roadways.