On May 17, 1955, a bronze tablet commemorating the Newark School Safety Patrol as the first such organization in the nation was unveiled and dedicated in the annual Newark Day ceremony of the Newark Schoolman’s Club* in Arts High School. The Newark News reported the event the following day, May 18th.
The tablet read as follows:
“On May 24, 1916, the Newark Board of Education, on recommendation of Charles A. McCall, supervisor of attendance, and Felix Dunn of the Newark Police Department, established the first school safety patrol in our nation. Patrol members through their continuous service practiced and taught safety, thus initiating standards that lasted through the years years, attaining national adoption”.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Edward F. Kennelly, superintendent of schools, described the school safety patrols as “Newark’s contribution to national safety”. He stressed the importance of the patrol as part of the safety education program in Newark.
Police Director Marino J. Rinaldi reviewed the role played by Patrolman Dunn, who died in 1933, in developing the patrol. Rinaldi’s son, Joseph, 6, unveiled the tablet.
The Safety Patrol began after Dunn was assigned to do special work for the Board of Education in 1916. Recognition of a new traffic hazard followed the advent of the automobile in 1916 when two school students were killed and 10 injured by cars in Newark. A meeting was called in City Hall attended by members of the Board of Education and the police commission to discuss a plan to prevent death and accidents.
It was suggested that patrols of older boys and girls be organized in each school. McCall was named chairman of the new safety patrol work, as a representative of the school board, and Dunn was detailed as his assistant. In the following 14 years before he retired, Dunn trained the boys and girls of the patrol and he became known as the “guardian of 100,000 lives”.
The tablet was installed in the Public Service Terminal facing Military Park. The Terminal Building has sine been demolished. I do not know the fate of the tablet.
*The history of the Schoolman’s Club will shortly be explored in greater detail.