By: Haylee Lenkey
The Montclair State University Police Department (MSUPD) implemented a new Pedestrian Safety Program on campus this week in response to the new traffic patterns, as well as rising concerns for pedestrian safety.
The program will feature MSUPD officers placed at specific locations around campus, such as cross walks, as a force to educate and enforce New Jersey pedestrian laws.
“The goal is not to produce tickets, rather it is to emphasize the responsibility of both pedestrians and motorists,” Lt. Kieran Barrett said.
The MSUPD is seeking to improve total safety on campus after receiving multiple complaints from the University Safety Committee and Parking and Transportation Services. Their concerns are understandable because on April 5, a student was struck by a vehicle outside CarParc Diem.
The program is designed to reach every person on campus, and does not discern between student, faculty or visitors. Using decoy operations, officers acting as pedestrians will be placed at selected areas and are trained to enforce laws when necessary.
“Our hope is that advertisement through questions posed here are helpful and we will do our best to educate individuals in the community as we roll this program out,” Barrett said. “Ignorance of the laws, however, will not be a defense to enforcement of the law.”
Students offered a variety of responses to the new program. Tess Yaney, 20, a fine arts major said, “I feel it’s unnecessary. I think we learn about this in high school, it doesn’t need to be reinforced in college. I think people should already know.”
“I find it a little juvenile – people should be spending more time [focusing] on the actual driving and parking problems that could cause accidents,” Yaney said. “Maybe [enforce] more things about speeding and stop signs.”
However, senior Peter Major, 22, sees the benefits of the program. “I think it’s very good, especially on campus because people drive like wackos,” Major said.
“I think fines are okay – it’s a rule that’s everywhere, not just campus. Any time you cross a street, you can’t jaywalk,” said Major.
When asked whether fines would be involved, Lt. Barrett said, “The number one goal is education and outreach, as this [program] can help us with [that]. The law will be enforced and both motorists and pedestrians have obligations.”
Chief Paul Cell developed the program after seeing its success at other institutions around the state. The program, as well as training for the officers by the N.J. Traffic Officers Association at the Essex County Police Academy, was at no additional cost, according to MSUPD.
But the thought of additional fines does not sit well in the student body. Nate Bajar, 19, said, “There are always going to be people in a rush, crossing the street. I don’t think we should be given a ticket for jaywalking. I think before they work on pedestrian safety they should think about the kind of tickets they give… It’s just more money for Montclair to take from us.”
In lieu of these changes, students and faculty are encouraged to read up on New Jersey driver and pedestrian laws. For more information on updated laws visit http://www.nj.gov/lps/hts/pedestrian.html.