Back-to-school day like no other, says Niagara police

Cops patrol community Safety Zones Niagara police patrol community safety zones as student return to school. Photo credit: NRPS

Niagara police were out in force yesterday as students returned to school for the fall semester, with plenty of fines, warnings, and even several arrests and license suspensions for careless motorists.

After a shortened school year in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kindergarten, and Grade 1 students started at District School Board of Niagara elementary schools on Tuesday. Subsequent Grades are being phased in each day this week. (See related) Niagara Catholic schools started with reduced class size cohorts based on surname. Some high school students started in-person classes if their designated cohort was assigned to attend school, while others started online classes.

In support of the new semester start, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NPRS) ran its 20th annual back to school traffic safety and awareness day. 

41 additional officers on uniformed duty

Senior officers and police who work in specialty units, who do not usually participate in uniform patrol duties, donned their uniforms and attended designated community school zones for traffic safety and awareness day.  In addition to the uniformed patrol, an additional 41 officers took part in the initiative.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this back to school day was been like no other.  This year the Niagara School Boards elected to stagger the start date and times during the first week. Even though not all students were returning today, the Niagara Regional Police wanted to continue with this worthwhile initiative to remind drivers about safe driving habits that can help to protect the lives of our citizens in Niagara.” the police service explained in a release.

Officers monitored 12 community safety zones around schools to alert drivers to the increased fines, which have been doubled in the zones.

The police service said in a public bulletin that the “majority of the drivers were driving cautiously around the school zones.”

However, not all drivers observed the new rules. 144 tickets and warnings were issued by Niagara police, including 112 warnings and 22 tickets issued for speeding. 10 other various traffic offenses were issued. One driver was charged with driving while under suspension.  Elsewhere in the Region, two drivers were arrested during the day and charged for impaired driving.

Police warnings will continue over the next two weeks and officers will begin laying charges on Sept. 21. 

School bus service resumes

With the return of back to school, school buses have also resumed their service transporting students to schools.  The Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) has equipped more than 100 school buses with video cameras for both the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board.  Video of motorist infractions around school buses is being sent to Niagara police. “If there are grounds to support a charge, then the offense notice will be mailed to the last known address of the vehicle’s owner,” the NRPS advised.

The NRPS said its officers will continue to conduct traffic safety programs in school zones throughout the school year, by targeting aggressive and distracted drivers. 

The following 12 locations have been designated as Community Safety Zones and are being policed by the Niagara Regional Police Service as the schools are located on regional roads:

  • Smithville
    • John Calvin School at 320 Station St in Smithville
    • Smithville District Christian High School at 6488 Townline Rd in Smithville
  • Grimsby
    • Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School at 145 Livingston Ave in Grimsby
    • Park Elementary School at 217 Main St Eas Grimsby
  • Vineland
    • Twenty Valley Public School at 4057 Victoria Ave, Vineland Station
  • East Niagara Region
    • Alexander Kuska KSG Catholic Elementary School in 333 Rice Rd, Welland
    • Crossroads Public Elementary School at 1350 Niagara Stone Rd in Niagara-on-the-Lake
    • DSBN Academy at 130 Louth St in St Catharines
    • Greendale Elementary School at 5504 Montrose Rd, Niagara Falls
    • Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School in Fort Erie
    • Stain Ann Catholic Elelmentary School in 218 Main St, St. Catharines
    • St. David’s Public School in 1344 York Rd, St. Davids