Covering Chicago's Back-to-School Season

CPS Begins Training 'Safe Passage' Workers

600 workers will be spread out over 50 new "Safe Passage" routes

By Kim Vatis
|  Friday, Aug 16, 2013  |  Updated 10:41 PM CDT
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CPS officials say 600 people have been hired to monitor more than 50 routes created to get children safely to and from school. Kim Vatis reports.

CPS officials say 600 people have been hired to monitor more than 50 routes created to get children safely to and from school. Kim Vatis reports.

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Several hundred workers expected to stand guard on Chicago Public Schools' "Safe Passage" routes gathered Friday at the Lindblom School to get training tips from police and other experts.

Some 600 people will be spread out over 50 new "Safe Passage" routes released last week. The workers said they know they face a tough battle helping kids cross gang lines in some cases, but they are energized.

"I am always going to be nervous, because it's dangerous," Dominique Cofield said, "but you can't let them know that."

The workers learned how to manage dangerous situations by engaging in role-playing exercises and other forms of training. As an icebreaker groups of workers had to make a support system to save an egg symbolic of a child in need.

CPS called it the best training program it ever organized.

"What we did today is show that what they're doing is valuable and fragile and they should always have that consideration," said Bishop James Duke, who served as a team building expert.

"We are all big family," worker Kathryn Wiley said. "These children are our babies."

Gang enforcement experts also told the workers what to watch for as they man their posts and urged them to call police if they notice anything suspicious. "Safe Passage" workers will not be armed.

The training will be ongoing all year.

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