By CBSNewYork Team

WESTFIELD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Towns across New Jersey are putting out the call for more crossing guards, calling it a public safety issue.

Elementary and middle school kids flooded the sidewalks of Westfield on Tuesday afternoon. The crossing at Rahway Avenue and Willow Grove Road was manned by a police officer.

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“We often have to assign, you know, sometimes eight, ten officers a day to cover these posts, and that does have an impact on public safety,” Westfield Police Chief Christopher Battiloro told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

There are 43 crossing guard posts in town. Battiloro says he needs 10-15 more crossing guards to help man these posts and add to the reserves for when people call in sick.

“We’re experiencing a staff shortage just like you’re seeing in the food service industry, just like there’s a need for school bus drivers,” he said.

The chief says during drop-off and pick-up hours, there are more cars on the road and more accidents, so police resources are needed elsewhere.

“Last Friday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we had no police resources available because all of our patrol officers were committed to crossing guard posts,” Battiloro said.

“I’ve been down here several times when there’s no crossing guard and it’s a little scary,” father Terry Brenan said.

“It’s a really busy intersection, and some of the kids walk on their own or get picked up, and it’s really, honestly, it’s been dangerous for me at times, too,” mom Amy Perna said.

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“I think we should have more crossing guards because it’s very scary to almost get hit by a car,” 8-year-old Silvana Perna said.

John Colasanti has been a crossing guard in his neighborhood for seven years.

“What do you love about it?” Baker asked.

“Generally helping the kids because it’s just a joy. I’m a father and a grandfather,” Colasanti said.

But he warns it can be tough job.

“Traffic is moving a lot faster. A lot of recklessness and not being careful, and rudeness and road rage,” he said.

The pitch – be part of the community and help kids get to and from school safely.

The job requires an hour and a half in the morning and afternoon, five days a week.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team