Meet the 11-year old who got an award from Fullerton Police for making his neighborhood safer
There’s a stretch of Nutwood Avenue, lined on both sides with single family homes – one of those blocks where everyone knows everyone and kids play with neighbors’ kids in their front yards.
But there was a problem.
Vehicles traveling on the street, which is not far from elementary schools and Fullerton College, often exceeded the 25 miles-per-hour speed limit.
Jude Varieur, 11, decided to do something to slow the cars down.
“I noticed that people were going really fast down the street and just by looking at it, I could tell it was not 25 miles per hour,” Jude said.
Jude, with some help from neighbors, crafted large yellow lawn signs with vivid black capital letters that read, “DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE” and “SLOW.”
He got permission from dozens of his neighbors to posted the signs in front yards along the entire block.
Now, drivers turning onto Nutwood are reminded every few feet that obeying the speed limit is probably a good idea.
“People are going a lot slower down the street and I can see them looking at the signs,” Jude told Behind the Badge.
The Fullerton Police Department honored Jude at its monthly crime strategy meeting with a certificate from Chief Dan Hughes.
The recognition is bestowed on citizens who perform an act that helps the police.
"Jude is a change-maker. He saw a problem in his community that affected his safety, and the safety of others,” Chief Hughes said. “He addressed the problem head on and made a difference in his neighborhood.”
The way Jude sees it, the police are out there serving the community every day, so making their job easier is not much to ask in return.
“I wanted to do that because they are helping me all the time,” Jude said. “So I might as well help them too.”
The whole idea of making the signs started in May as his fifth-grade project, said Jude, who is home schooled by his mother, Laurelin Varieur.
“Jude has always been very inquisitive, since he was really, really little,” she said.
Jude first approached city officials about possibly posting speed bumps or speed feedback signs as a way to slow down vehicles speeding down his street.
The city put down a speed-measuring strip on the street, which determined that vehicles were in fact exceeding the speed limit by an average of 7 miles per hour, not fast enough however, to warrant building speed bumps or posting speed feedback signs.
So Jude went to the police, who parked a trailer on the street with a mechanism that would flash red and blue lights if cars went over the speed limits
“I thought, well that is not going to be a permanent thing because it (the trailer) will be needed elsewhere,” Jude said. “So what could I do that could be a permeant thing.”
He went out and got paint and hardware from Home Depot and Dunn Edwards (The retailers donated the supplies) and got busy making signs.
Constructing all the signs took about 50 hours, Jude said.
He got permission from 25 residents to post signs on their front lawns.
Jude’s neighbor Amy Harding, whose sons Chad,6, and Zach, 10, are friends of the Jude, posted a sign in her front yard.
Harding notices that vehicles turn down the street and initially go faster than the speed limit, but slow down after they see the signs.
“I feel better now that the signs are up, when they (kids) are actually playing out here,” Harding said.
Neighbor Vikki Jones, who lives two houses away from Jude, noticed a difference too.
“I think that the coolest part is that he has made a difference in his own way as a child,” Jones said. “His signs are wonderful. They have really slowed down the cars, but I love the fact that this guy, at his young age, can make a difference.”
Chief Hughes said that Jude’s sign project is an example of what citizens can accomplish by investing in their communities.
“The Fullerton Police Department is so proud of Jude, and it’s our hope that his story will inspire others, regardless of their age, to get involved in their community and make a difference just like he did," Hughes said.