Law Enforcement Case Study: Gulfport, Mississippi
Infrastructure and Non-infrastructure Strategies
For the most part, children in the City of Gulfport (population 72,464) do not walk or bike to school because of unsafe conditions, primarily the lack of sidewalks, but also the need to cross multi-lane streets without lights, and other issues. The Gulfport Police Department (GPD) became increasingly concerned about this situation and decided to seek SRTS funding to improve safety and increase the numbers of students walking and bicycling to school.
In October 2007, the GPD took the initiative to promote and engage schools to participate in Walk and Bike to School Month as a way to promote safety and encourage more students to walk and bike to school. To further expand its SRTS efforts, the Gulfport Police Department was awarded a $89,000 Safe Routes to School grant through the Mississippi Department of Transportation. To reach their goals, the program was designed to:
- Implement a standardized bicycle and pedestrian safety education curriculum in the city's elementary and middle schools combining classroom and field instruction
- Conduct a media campaign to increase the public's awareness of walking and bicycling to school
- Provide community education activities such as bicycle rodeos
- Install six digital pole mounted speed detection signs for speed enforcement (as a tool to improve safety in and around six of Gulfport's school zones)
- Use speed radars during key drop-off and pick-up times to aggressively enforce speed and all other traffic laws
"The Gulfport Police Department's proposed project was well-planned and comprehensive in nature and will potentially provide an excellent example for other Safe Routes programs, specifically enforcement agencies who are considering involvement. We are excited to see this program come to fruition."
—Cookie Leffler, the Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the Mississippi DOT praised the city's effort
As the lead agency, the Gulfport Police Department is working with the city's two school departments as well as the Public Works Director and Traffic Engineer to implement the program. To make the program relevant to each school and to build program sustainability beyond the federal funding, the local program coordinator works with School Resource Officers and classroom teachers to form local Safe Routes to School committees.
The anticipated outcome of the program is to create an ongoing bicycle and pedestrian safety education program that reaches approximately 7,466 students in 18 school sites across the city. It is also expected that the program will improve the safety of children who are currently walking and biking to school while increasing the overall number of children who walk and bike to school. Results will be measured through the following evaluation methods:
- Pre- and post-activity student surveys.
- Using the police department's records management system, a pre- and post-program comparison of the number of citations issued by police officers and the number of reported crashes in the six sites where the digital speed detection signs have been installed.
Gulfport Police Department
P.O. Box S
Gulfport, MS 39556