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Why does one intersection have no crossing guards and another has four?

Loni Blandford

Why does one intersection have no crossing guards and another has four?

CREATED Nov. 1, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- An accident waiting to happen. That's how some parents describe the walk home from school for their kids. With no crossing guards or crosswalk, some elementary students are left to dodge traffic on their own. But Action News found another intersection that has four guards. Why so many at one but none at another? 

"I'm very concerned for all the kids that have nobody," said Marcee Shafer.

Marcee has lived in Las Vegas for years and is used to seeing kids walking to school on her way into work. What she couldn't figure out is why this year there is not one, not two, not three but four crossing guards at Gowan and Buffalo.

"We have a light, we have crosswalks. There doesn't seem to be the need when there are some areas that have no light, no crosswalk and no guards, " said Marcee. 

Areas like El Capitan and Arby. 

"There's children that walk by their selves, fifth graders, from third grade," said Joe Nisgarcia.

"Cars don't stop. I've seen them try and cross the street. Cars will keep coming. They won't stop," said Kris Kemp.

The intersection has two stop signs, one crosswalk and no crossing guard. Parents say it's a dangerous mix for kids at Tanaka Elementary.

"One of these kids one day can, god forbid, anything can happen. They can get hit," said Joe.

Metro agrees there is a legitimate concern there, but says there's little they can do about it.

"How would you describe the shortage situation that you're in," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

"It's bad. It's bad," said Helen Lawhon from Metro Police.

Helen supervises the crossing guard program.

"There's just too many. I'm down 31," said Helen.

They're actually now down 30 guards, who could be at one of the 300 crossings Metro covers.

"There is a need for more cross guards, but yet, are we using the ones we do have appropriately," asked Marcee.

Helen says they are at Gowan and Buffalo. Anywhere from 37 to 107 kids cross there which is up about 10 kids from last year. Two of the four guards are actually supervisors, helping out because there aren't new guards to put there.

But Marcee says the guards at Gowan and Buffalo are more like standing guards instead of crossing guards. As our Action News cameras captured, they only walk a couple steps away from the sidewalk instead of crossing with the people as they cross. That concerned Marcee. 

"They are not in my opinion being serviced to the kids," said Marcee.

We showed our video to Helen.

"What she is trying to do is stop them from turning right and maybe hitting a child as they're coming off the curb," said Helen.

She says every intersection has problems that the guards try to tackle. At Gowan and Buffalo it's drivers rushing to make a right turn and not seeing the kids or crossing guard if they're in the middle of the street. That's why the guards now stand closer to the sidewalk. In other spots, it's the sheer number of kids. Helen says one area even has five guards just to control the crowd.

"I have a list of 41 crossings that the school district, transportation and some principals have asked for paid guards I can't put them," said Helen.

Most crossing guards are seniors. Some retire, others are forced off the job by their doctors. Sadly, some pass away. That's what Helen says happened at El Capitan and Arby. She can't replace them because Sheriff Gillespie says they just don't have the money to hire anymore guards.

"Parents are afraid kids are going to get hit at these places," said Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

"I know. Don't you think we think about this everyday," said Helen.

With safety on everyone's minds, Marcee hopes kids will start to learn the rules of the road at home.

"They need to be out here, start walking with their kids or having an older sibling walk with their kids," said Marcee. 

Metro says the number of kids crossing at El Capitan and Arby went from 9 last year to 41 this year, so they say they are planning to put guards there. But that won't happen until sometime next year. Starting in January, Metro is outsourcing its crossing guard program to a private company.

All City Management Services plans to retain the existing crossing guards and make the necessary additional hires. We're now looking into what happens in the meantime. 

Do you know of a crossing that needs a crossing guard? If so, send an email to