Godwin says MCS bus policy caught police off guard - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Godwin says MCS bus policy caught police off guard

By Nick Kenney - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin says hundreds of students forced to walk to school are in danger after Memphis City Schools eliminated several bus routes but didn't give the police department a heads-up.

At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, just after school dismissal, uniformed officers and a parking service technician were on post, directing traffic at the intersection of Ridgeway and Winchester.  A fourth officer controlled traffic signals. 

The cops were turned into crossing guards because of a new Memphis City Schools policy that prevents students living within two miles of a campus from riding schools buses.

"We got caught off guard by it," Police Director Larry Godwin said Tuesday.

In fact, Godwin said, the police department was not warned about the bussing changes.

"We got zero notification." he said. "No communication whatsoever."

School Superintendent Doctor Kriner Cash said that's not true.

"We actually did consult and we had to move ahead," Cash said.

The superintendent said his security team approached the Memphis Police Department and requested help, but the MPD wanted to conduct a feasibility study first.

However, Godwin claims he's never seen the plan. He said two security officers did request help from the Ridgeway precinct - two days after the school year began.

"We'll work out whatever the issues are, and I expect MPD to continue to help us make these children safe," Cash said.

Godwin said his officers will do what's necessary, but it won't be cheap.

"We're going to do those things, but a little planning in this, I think, that would've gone a long way," he said.

Godwin said the officers now working traffic detail are either working overtime or are not answering other calls, and he'll likely have to hire more crossing guards.

Cash says the bussing plan is still a work in progress that will require help from everyone.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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