MAYPEARL  — Lately, promoting better choices among youth and increasing safety have been the key focuses of community outreach for the Maypearl Police Department

By taking several action steps to focus on these issues, the department hopes to have a safer community for people to live and work.

“We were able to identify certain problems regarding traffic and pedestrian flow. We took action to alleviate it and fix it. The first step was putting in the crosswalks,” Maypearl Police Chief Kevin Coffey said. “Accidents were always a big concern because people were just running across the road wherever. Drivers sometimes are not paying attention and there was the potential there.”

Coffey said the other reason crosswalks were added was because the school district added the new Maypearl Intermediate School in August, bringing in an additional about 200 – 300 students to the district. The crosswalks were added at Third, Fourth and Fifth Street near the elementary, junior high, intermediate and the high school. Along with the new crosswalks, new street signs were added and a section of Third Street between Phillips and Panther Way was changed into a one-way road.

Coffey said changing the section of Third Street helps reduce traffic congestion and allows parents to get in and out of the campus more efficiently.

Two crossing guards were also added as the other action step taken to improve safety of both motorists and pedestrians. The two crossing guards are stationed at Third Street, where people enter the intermediate school driveway, and Fourth Street, where people enter the elementary school.

“The crossing guards are a couple of parents actually that volunteer. We outfit them with the vests and the stop panel signs. They are up there in the morning for school and in the afternoon when it lets out,” Coffey said. “The kids love the crossing guards. We don’t have kids wondering across everywhere. We have not had any accidents.”

Other focuses by the department include an increase of safety on the district’s bus routes. During different days of the week, officers are either riding inside the bus or following behind it in a patrol vehicle. Officers are watching and tracking vehicles that pass a bus while it is stopped with a stop sign out. Passing a bus that has an active stop sign out breaks the law.

In the school, officers have been working with the district to educate students about the dangers of alcohol on the body and the consequences of driving while impaired.

Coffey said for two days in October officers taught classes to high school seniors on these topics. During the classes, students participated in various activities using impairment goggles to simulate the effect of various amounts of alcohol in their systems. While using the goggles, students attempted several simple activities such as walking a straight line while touching heel to toe, standing on one leg and picking up a set of keys. Students struggled to maintain their balance and equilibrium, which simulates a person under the influence.

“By using this program and talking to student,s we are trying to be pro-active and getting them to think about these things before they get behind the wheel,” Coffey said. “Hopefully by educating them now we can make a difference and maybe even save a life.”

Maypearl High School principal Debbie Griffin expressed her thanks to the department for taking their time out to educate students about these topics.

“The drug and alcohol education program you (Coffey) gave to our economics classes was an eye-opening experience for some of them,” Griffin said. “They were amazed how difficult it was to complete the exercises while wearing the various drunk goggles.”

Coffey added he hopes to hold the class on an annual basis and is working with the district to host a Fatal Choices Shattered Dreams event in May. Shattered Dreams shows students the consequences of drinking and driving though a mock accident as students from the school take on different roles in the demonstration.