I am writing to express my outrage at the police's treatment of law-abiding parents and children at Washington Elementary school. The purpose of a police department should be to prevent crime and promote safety. Instead, however, the Berkeley traffic officers and meter staff take up valuable drop-off parking spots, cause additional anxiety for drivers by stating clearly that they are here to collect parking fines, and threaten/intimidate parents trying to drop off children at school. This creates an unsafe environment for children and unnecessary chaos.
Children should not be rushed to exit their cars and parents should be able to leave the vehicle momentarily to ensure that their children enter the building safely. It appears from the department's actions that Berkeley is primarily interested in collecting additional revenue from fines, thereby taking advantage of innocent citizens rather than protecting them. As an example, I found it highly inappropriate that an officer was stationed at the entrance to the school for the purpose of handing out a letter explaining ranges of fines on the first day of school. Going forward, I would like to see police officers help ensure that only people who belong on the school campus allowed through the gates, and that children are helped to safety cross the street between the main building and the bungalows.
Kasey Guentert is the mother of two children at Washington Elementary.