OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — For years, the Overland Park Police Department has managed the crossing guard program near schools in the city.
"If a crossing guard didn't make it at the time, there was a police officer there that helped them cross the street, and I loved that," Miri Baron, whose daughter goes to John Diemer Elementary, said.
The department, however, said the arrangement put a strain on resources.
"A lot of times officers were unable to respond to calls for service such as a non-injury accident because they were at the crosswalks," Overland Park Police Officer John Lacy explained.
As a result, the department decided to contract with All City Management, a private company that will hire and oversee crossing guards.
Baron found out about the change from a letter her daughter's crossing guard handed out on Tuesday.
"It said his job was being terminated," 12-year-old Alayna Baron said of the note.
The news was concerning for her mother, who appreciates the extensive background checks guards currently go through at the police department.
"I don't know this company. I don't know anything about them," she said.
Cpt. Ray Tisinger, who currently coordinates the crossing guard program, assured 41 Action News the company will abide by police standards when it comes to background checks.
He also said All City offered to hire all of the existing guards and keep them at their current post. In a letter to school superintendents, Overland Park Police Chief Francis Donchez said the "vast majority" of guards accepted the offer.
All City is offering a pay raise, but Tisinger said guards will not get the same benefits offered by the police department.
That was a deal breaker for Bill Mace, the crossing guard that ushers Baron and her daughter across 97th and Lamar every school day.
"I'm heartbroken he's not going to be there. I don't know if I'd let my daughter cross the street (alone) because I don't know who the next person will be," Baron said.
All City takes over on January 29, but the city has not yet finalized its contract with the company.
You can read the full letter from the Overland Park Police Department to school superintendents below: