Skip to comments.Sheriff has volunteers shadowing school buses after attack heightens safety concerns in rural areas
Posted on 02/07/2004 9:01:56 PM PST by Spiff
BY DIANE SAUNDERS
COCHISE COUNTY - The Cochise County Sheriff's Department is taking steps to ensure the safety of schoolchildren who wait along roadways for their buses each morning.
County Sheriff Larry Dever said members of the Sheriff's Assist Team, a group of volunteers, have begun shadowing school buses in Palominas and Sierra Vista school districts.
The main purpose is to add another layer of protection to children from potentially dangerous illegal immigrants, Dever said.
"We're trying to identify the places that are most vulnerable," Dever said. When the vulnerable areas are identified, Dever hopes to enlist the help of parents and other residents in supervising the protection of the children.
Last week, SAT members began driving marked police cars behind school buses as they travel county roads outside city limits. Dever said the entire San Pedro corridor, which includes Palominas, Hereford and rural Sierra Vista, is experiencing a high volume of illegal immigrant traffic. Groups of illegals also are known to travel through the Tombstone and St. David areas. The sheriff said other problem areas include McNeal, Elfrida and Double Adobe.
While many of the illegals pose little or no threat to residents, including children, there are some who cross the Mexico border who are dangerous and a threat to unattended children, Dever said.
There have been several situations where illegal immigrants have threatened or assaulted county residents. Dever does not want to risk more of those incidents occurring.
Most recently, a Hereford woman and her daughter were allegedly accosted by three illegal Mexican immigrants The three men allegedly pulled the woman and her daughter from their vehicle, then stole it.
There have been other incidents. There was a carjacking at Valley View School in Palominas a few months ago. In a separate incident, a car was stolen from an elderly couple in Parker Canyon, Dever said.
There also have been numerous reports of groups of illegal immigrants passing near children as they waited for their school buses. "The potential for conflict and tragedy is significant. Everybody in the community is concerned," Dever said.
As SAT follows school buses and tracks the most vulnerable areas of the county, school officials are taking steps of their own. "We have been very proactive with our buses, with our kids, with our staff, with our parents," said Kathy Moore, superintendent of Palominas school district.
The district, which has three elementary schools, includes the geographical areas of Hereford and Palominas - an area where groups of illegals cross the international border to make their way to destinations in Arizona and other areas of the United States.
Until about five years ago, children living on narrow dirt roads were required to walk to the main roads to catch their school buses, Moore said. That practice changed as the influx of illegals increased. Now, bus drivers brave less than ideal roads that add to the wear and tear on the buses.
The superintendent said district officials had to decide between the safety of children and potential damage to buses.
"When you weigh the two, the kids win," Moore said.
Some areas of the Palominas school district have "very treacherous roadways" that present a danger to the bus driver and the children on the bus, she added.
"There are still places in our district that we cannot go," Moore said.
In those instances, parents bring their children to safe areas to meet their bus every morning.
Moore also said each bus is equipped with a radio. If the bus driver sees anything unusual or potentially threatening, he or she radios the school district transportation office, which then notifies the U.S. Border Patrol.
"Our drivers watch everything. Our drivers are astute and pay attention to everything," Moore said. The number of parents who wait with their children at bus stops is increasing, she added.
"Our drivers will not drop off a kindergarten child unless there is a parent or guardian waiting at the stop or an older sibling is riding (the bus) with the child," Moore said.
In addition, students are encouraged to tell bus drivers or teachers about suspicious people in their neighborhood. Moore said there have been situations of an unfamiliar car parked near the bus stop. When that has happened, the bus driver does not let the child off. Instead, the driver takes the student back to school and calls the parents.
Sue Golden, a mother and the district's transportation director, described the situation in Palominas and Hereford in one word.
"Scary. That's the only word I can use to describe it," she said.
She lauded the efforts of the Border Patrol and the SAT volunteers. "It was great, it was wonderful," she said of the SAT presence behind the school buses.
Precautions also are taken for children who ride school buses in Sierra Vista, said Sue Durbin, transportation supervisor for Sierra Vista public schools.
All of Sierra Vista's school buses are equipped with radios, and drivers are instructed to call in if they see a suspicious car or person.
And children who live in rural areas are not dropped off unless a parent is waiting at the bus stop. Like Palominas, more parents are accompanying their children to the bus stops in the morning, Durbin said. Fortunately, there have been no problems so far this school year.
Durbin also said SAT members have been provided with maps of the school district's rural bus routes.
There have been no problems in the Tombstone school district, Superintendent John Hebnes said.
"I haven't heard anything at all this year," he said.
While district officials have not formally instructed bus drivers about precautions since the carjacking in Palominas, "We will start working with the bus drivers to make sure they are aware," Hebnes added.
REPORTER Diane Saunders can be reached at 515-4611 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Shall we list the positions and names of everyone responsible for this situation so we can dispense "justice" or would it take too much space? This is outright treason.
I'd rather be painting too; gorgeous day for it. Maybe a Plein-Air group could do a little watching through field glasses while wielding ye 'ol paint brush - this Nana is up for it!
Spiff and All, there is more at work here than meets the eye and our elected starting with Jim Kolbe, whom I sent papers about this back in the early '90s as well as John McCain and got no response, I don't think they had a clue as to the danger or what The La Paz Agreement was all about. Our politicians have their backs against the wall because of all these previous agreements and the EPA (United Nation agencies) have the upper hand, perhaps that is why they aren't upset at the trashing of the desert.
I think some historian on the subject of Borders XX1 and good land lawyer had better start explaining what all this means - but in a nut shell folks, we've been had by the Globalists in this world. Friends who are ranchers, along with other ranchers in TX managed to buy up a bunch of land to keep the gov. and EPA at bay. This mess didn't happen over night and it needs to be cleaned up ASAP but the National Guard and Federal Government can't move - they are boxed in.
A bunch of stuff - (jobs via US, UN, and other agencies unbelievable!)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.