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Parents told traffic control at elementary school hampered by EPISD police shortage

EL PASO, Texas -- Every day when parents pick up their children at Tippin Elementary School, they have to dodge backed up lines of impatient drivers. But now, they say they have to be especially careful as others are driving recklessly.

On Oct. 26, Jenny Solo, a parent of students at Tippin, recorded a particular incident on her dash cam of a driver in a silver truck who almost sideswiped a car, drove into oncoming traffic as he cut them off, and then hit a school gate not once - but twice - with young children behind the gate.

She reached out to the El Paso Independent School District Police, but said she was told that police were understaffed. "Their solution was basically to say parents need to do better," Solo said. But she maintains that "we do need the police presence, and that’s all I'm asking for. I want people to slow down near the schools, [to] respect each other.”

On Tuesday, concerned parents voiced their opinions to the school as well as EPISD board members and police in an attempt to change the way pick up is done. However, parents didn't get the resolutions that they had hoped to hear.

Manuel Chavira, Chief of Police Services for EPISD, told ABC-7, echoed that his force is understaffed "just like every other police department in the United States. We have 30 officers for 86 campuses, we need to be able to do the best that we can with what we have."

Chavira is battling his own department's difficulties in trying to decide which schools need to have a greater police presence, and at what times. He said he has to make those decisions on whether he wants to pull officers from one school to another, which means certain schools won't have on-site coverage while another one does. Chavira also told ABC-7 that in the past two weeks, 52 traffic citations have been given out at Tippen - but he can only do so much with a limited staff.

EPISD leaders know that the issue is an urgent one, and have decided to conduct a study to determine whether the street in front of Tippin, Bear Ridge, would be eligible for speed bumps to slow drivers down. They also are looking into doing a staggered release of students. For example, the older students could be released first, and the younger ones afterwards - with siblings grouping up in a waiting area so they can be picked together.

In the meantime, Chavira is hoping parents will have more courtesy towards their fellow parents: "The community needs to buy into the traffic flow plan that the principal lays out. We can come out and try to enforce it, but at the end of the day, everyone just needs to be respectful to each other."

Katie Frazier

Katie Frazier is an ABC-7 meteorologist and reporter.

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