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May 11, 2013

Council to consider school bus cameras

GREENVILLE — Drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses in Greenville may soon be caught on camera, under a proposed ordinance up for consideration by the City Council.

The Council is scheduled to vote on a “Photographic Enforcement and Administrative Adjudication of School Bus Stop Arm Violations” ordinance during Tuesday’s regular session, starting at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Buiilding, 2821 Washington Street.

According to a memo to the Council from City Attorney Daniel W. Ray, the Greenville Police Department and Ray’s office have been working with the Greenville Independent School District and the Dallas County Schools District (which is different from the Dallas Independent School District) on a cooperative effort to add cameras to Greenville ISD school buses.

“The goal of the program is to catch and convict drivers who illegally drive around school buses with their ‘stop arm’ extended,” Ray said. “These drivers are responsible for creating an unsafe and potentially deadly situation for children who cannot see around the bus when crossing the street.”

The program would add cameras to the buses that would be remotely monitored by people working with the Dallas County Schools District. If a potential violation is confirmed by that office, the video from multiple different cameras would be forwarded to a Greenville Police officer to review. The officer could then approve a citation to be sent to the owner of the vehicle as determined by the license plate number and registration records.

The proposed ordinance sets a $300 fine for illegally passing a school bus in the city limits, creates a position of “hearing officer” that would hear any appeals in the Municipal Court, and creates an appeal process whereby a defendant can appeal a ruling to the Municipal Court Judge. The City of Greenville would receive 12.5 percent of all fines collected.

“The propose ordinance change would provide the legal basis for this program,” Ray said. “If approved by Council, a contract with Dallas County Schools and a Memorandum of Understanding with the GISD would be presented for approval at a subsequent meeting.”

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