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April 26, 2011  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Police captain found guilty of illegal bus passing


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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Capt. Bruce Thomas Gentry, 43, of the Smithfield Police Department, was found guilty last Tuesday of illegally passing a stopped school bus in December.

Gentry received a 45-day suspended sentence, The Herald reports. He was issued the traffic citation on Dec. 17, when witnesses say he drove his police cruiser past a bus that was stopped and had its red lights on.

Misty Ricard, the mother of a 10-year-old boy who was crossing the street to board the bus, said she had to yell her son's name to prevent him from stepping out in front of Gentry's car. Once Ricard's son had boarded the bus, she followed the car and wrote down the license plate number on a gum wrapper. She identified Gentry as the driver in court.

The bus driver, Melissa Spain, said she made a hand motion to signal the car to stop, but it didn't. She also said she had turned on the bus' flashing yellow warning lights 400 feet prior to stopping, according to The Herald.

Gentry told District Court Judge Andy Corbett that he thought the bus driver was waiting for him to pass before stopping, and that only the yellow lights were flashing when he passed.

Corbett rejected several attempts by Gentry's lawyer to have the charges dropped.

In January, police Chief Michael Scott said that he would take no disciplinary action against Gentry until he had his day in court. And any discipline would be minor, Scott added, saying the offense did not merit a demotion or firing, The Herald reports.


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Read more about: law enforcement, stop arm running/illegal passing


I am a Retired police Chief... NOT A MAJOR INCIDENT???who is he kidding what if his child was crossing the road? How minor would that have been. I would have fired him as soon as he was found guilty of the stop arm violation. I now teach School Bus Driver Training in SC when are they going to wake up and relaize how improtant a school bus loading area is?

Ron    |    May 02, 2011 08:30 AM

I feel the police officer is an embarrassment to his department, the city, and his family based on his "guilty" verdict! I don't know why the school bus driver motioned for him to stop when she apparently had not activated the stop arm and Red traffic warning lights. That gave him an opportunity to use her hand signal against her by claiming she confused him. Yet, I am confused when a parent mentioned in the article that her son was crossing the road to board the bus. If the Red traffic warning lights and Stop Arm were not in use as the officer claimed, then why would she permit her child to cross? There is some ambiguity between statements by the parent, driver, and the police officer. Yet, I understand there were witnesses to the fact the Stop Arm and Red lights were in operation at the time the police officer passed the stopped school bus. Nevertheless, motorist are suppose to reduce speed and prepare to stop when the Amber warning lights are activated. The school bus driver should not have signaled the officer to stop if she did not have the Red lights and Stop Arm in operation. Yet again, there were witnessed to the fact the proper signals were in use. A parent should not permit a child to cross the street or highway until they know all traffic has completely stopped. I am shocked that North Carolina would be so lenient regarding a motorist, especially a police officer who was convicted and found guilty in court of failing to obey the North Carolina School Bus Stop Law. That is the main reason I have taken the time and information reported in the article to determine for myself if confusion OR the motorists being a police office had anything to do with the leniency of the enforcement of the law. There is no room for error by anybody when a school bus is involved, especially when it is approaching a pupil stop or has stopped to load or unload children! CHILDREN ARE DEPENDING ON ADULTS TO PROTECT THEM AND NOT PUT THEIR LIVES IN JEOPARDY. Because the police o

Bill Carr    |    Apr 27, 2011 07:19 AM

This officer was let off too lightly. An ordinary citizen would certainly have been dealt with more severly. Police officers know the laws they enforce. They need to be held accountable. This is why bus drivers have a hard time when they testify against the average citizen who passes a stopped school bus. If law enforcement doesn't respect those flashing amber or red lights, why should anyone else? This is embarrassing. He should have been held to a higher standard.

Carlene    |    Apr 27, 2011 05:39 AM

How can you enforce the law and get away with breaking it just because of your job title? If he had killed/injured a child, what penalty would he have gotten? He got off easier than the average citizen. Would it have been a minor offense if he had hit the child? This is why bus drivers have a hard time when they testify against the average citizen who passes a stopped school bus. If law enforcement doesn't respect those flashing amber or red lights, why should anyone else? This is embarrassing. He should have been held to a higher standard.

C. Robinson    |    Apr 26, 2011 05:53 PM

This officer was let off too lightly. An ordinary citizen would certainly have been dealt with more severly. Police officers know the laws they enforce. They need to be held accountable.

Ed Hortsch    |    Apr 26, 2011 03:48 PM

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