PLATTSBURGH — City Police Chief Desmond Racicot likes to refer to the city’s crew of crossing guards as heroes, but the modest bunch will have none of it.
“I am ex-military, and to me, the guys in the military are heroes. I’m just doing my job,” a humble Maurice Daniels said recently.
Daniels, 50, has been a city crossing guard for 12 years. He mans the busy intersection of Broad and Oak streets in front of Stafford Middle School twice a day, from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.
“This place can be crazy in the morning and even crazier in the afternoon when people are coming to get their kids,” Daniels said.
The main duty of a crossing guard is simple: Don’t let anyone get run over by a vehicle.
But achieving that goal can be a lot harder than you would think.
Distracted motorists, daydreaming pedestrians and kids who just don’t listen sometimes all present difficult challenges for crossing guards.
“I’m about the size of a small planet, but as big as I am, there are still people who say they didn’t see me,” the robust Daniels said.
“And I’ve got a bright yellow vest on, and I’m holding up a big red stop sign.”
In front of the middle school, there are four crossing points, but only one Daniels. When crowds of students queue up on the sidewalk waiting to cross, Daniels must make sure he can get traffic to stop at all four intersections.
He usually will walk out into the crosswalk at the western end of the intersection and from there he can hold up east-west traffic on Broad Street pretty securely. But traffic coming onto and off of Oak Street can be tricky.