LAFAYETTE — Robert John Louis missed his walkers.
And they’ve missed him.
“Some asked me to come visit this summer,” he said and smiled.
The 69-year-old is one of 22 crossing guards employed by the Lafayette Police Department who help children safely cross busy intersections on their way to school.
Those intersections will grow busier come Monday, when Lafayette Parish students return to school.
The Police Department held an orientation for its crossing guards on Wednesday.
The crossing guards staff neighborhood streets and some of the busiest roads in Lafayette — such as University Avenue at Congress.
Because of their service, no child has been struck by a vehicle in a staffed crosswalk, said Lafayette police Sgt. Mark Francis, who supervises the crossing guards.
“You make the difference for us,” said Francis, who also oversees police officers who staff Lafayette high and middle schools or school resource officers.
Francis reminded the crossing guards to wear their fluorescent-colored safety vests and ID badges that identify them as an employee of the Police Department.
“If you’ve got that vest on and a red stop sign, they should see you,” Francis told them.
But the roads aren’t without “knuckleheads not paying attention,” Francis said, and reminded the crossing guards to never step into the road until vehicles stop moving.
“With the little amount of money we pay you, you’re almost volunteers,” Francis joked. Francis said the guards make about $8.25 an hour — and work three hours a day.
The pay isn’t much when factoring in the short hours and cost of gas to drive to their locations twice a day, Francis said.
The crossing guards also work outside in the rain, heat and cold.
Dealing with the weather is the most difficult part of the job, especially “when it’s cold and when it rains,” Louis said.
He helps students walking to Edgar Martin Middle School along Broadmoor Boulevard.
Last year was Louis’ first as a crossing guard, and he had one encounter with a woman driver that he hasn’t forgotten.
“I was getting ready to cross my children, and she almost hit me because she was talking on her cellphone,” he said. “She said she was sorry.”
Francis advised drivers to obey school-zone speed limits, which become active again Monday. Police officers will be patrolling and issuing citations for violations, he said.