It’s a popular place to grab a morning coffee and to spend time with friends after school, but since the Cooper Square Retail Plaza (CSRP) opened across from CCHS, it has seen a rise in jaywalking rates as high as their ice cream sales.
This illegal and highly dangerous act has become commonplace among CCHS students. Some CCHS staff attribute this increase in jaywalking to the opening of CSRP.
“When Cooper Square opened up, there was a large percentage of students who [began to] head over there after school or before school,” 11th grade vice principal Robert Herzog said. “Unfortunately, based on previous walking assignments, the students are just walking from the South gate by [the softball field], across the street; which is the quickest way.”
As students walk from point A to point B, they have found that the fastest way through is a honk-filled and bolting straight line through Stirling Road rather than taking the crosswalk by CCHS. This reckless route to CSRP has caused some students to earn jaywalking tickets in the process.
“Unfortunately, there have been a few students who have gotten tickets or at least warnings from the deputies [for jaywalking],” Herzog said.
With before school traffic being characteristically chancy, even students who follow safety precautions have found themselves in injury-inflicting situations.
“I was skating to school and a truck stopped for the stop sign on the crosswalk, instead of before the crosswalk,” sophomore Andrew Guzman said. “I wasn’t necessarily hit by the truck, but my foot was run over.”
With heavy foot traffic colliding with street traffic before and after school, CCHS’ administration and security teams have put a number of precautions in place to prevent future jaywalking and, in turn, further injury.
“Jaywalking is dangerous and illegal, so we have been encouraging students to walk directly to the East of [the softball field], to the crosswalk,” Herzog said.“We’ve been working diligently in collaboration with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) to keep everyone safe.”
Herzog is delivering morning announcements over CCHS’ intercom to remind students of afterschool traffic and to advise them to use the school’s crosswalk. BSO is also patrolling Sterling Road, directing students to the crosswalk and even meeting with the manager of CSRP to ensure student safety.
“The biggest problem is over at the plaza afterschool. BSO and the school are working together to try tightening it up,” school resource officer Kevin Coleman said. “We have a meeting sometime this week with Ms. Perkovic, Mr. May and the owner of the plaza.”
CSRP’s efforts, in collaboration with CCHS and the BSO has not only addressed the issue of jaywalking, but of trespassing and loitering as well. According to Coleman, the plaza is enforcing rules that make these minor crimes unappealing.
“What they’re trying to crack down on [now] is if you’re not over there for any purpose after school, they’re gonna trespass you,” Coleman said.
The BSO’s efforts, along with Herzog’s daily morning announcements have helped to reduce the amount of student jaywalkers before and after school.
“I have noticed a reduction in the amount of students that have been crossing Stirling illegally, by utilizing jaywalking,” Herzog said.
With help from CSRP, CCHS is looking forward to a virtually jaywalk-free school year. As the school’s outreach has led to safer before and after school routines, students have been guided away from oncoming traffic and towards a concrete paved path. Though taking this route creates a minor detour for students, it is the legal and cautious way to enjoy an afterschool ice cream.