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Port St. Lucie police issue 50+ citations, warnings first day back to school

'Going through a school zone, slow down, please,' crossing guard says
Posted at 9:51 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 08:15:32-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.  — Wednesday marked the first day of school for students from the Treasure Coast down to Palm Beach County.

With children headed back to class, law enforcement was busy catching people breaking safety laws.

"Day one, actually, I'm going to give it a B+. They did pretty well this year compared to past years," said Cherrie Portinga, a crossing guard in Port St Lucie.

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"Especially new parents aren't familiar with the rules the first day," said Neal Willis, another crossing guard. "A lot of them come in through the wrong gate, had to get back to the gridlock line."

They said traffic was bumper to bumper as families prefer to drop off their children the first week back.

"Going through a school zone, slow down, please," said Portinga. "It's for the safety of the kids. It's not to make you late for work, and just be patient."

Port St Lucie police are increasing their presence in all schools to catch speeders as well as other violations issuing warnings and citations on the spot.

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On the first day of school, Port St. Lucie police traffic officers issued more than 50 citations and warnings.

"We had some that were accepting of their fault. Some that just flat didn't notice that it was a school zone yet. Some that were unaware that school had restarted and others just felt the need to argue," said Officer Keith Appelbaum. "Typically, the afternoons for us, people tend to speed up a little bit more. It's my experience in the morning, people aren't driving as fast but they tend to be on their cell phone, they tend to be having their breakfast."

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Port St. Lucie police said they issued 10,000 citations in or around school zones last year, with tickets running as high as $456.

"As long as we made the road a safer place for the children passing, that's our number one goal," said Appelbaum.

In Palm Beach County, the Boynton Beach Police Department wrote a total of 9 citations and 28 warnings between Citrus Cove Elementary and Crosspointe Elementary.

The highest speed was 55 mph in 20 mph school zone.

Port St Lucie police said they are currently hiring more crossing guards. To apply, click here.