MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A school district here will soon have its entire fleet equipped with stop-arm cameras.
Capt. Tom Didone of Montgomery County Police Department confirmed during a briefing with the Montgomery County Council on July 29 that stop-arm cameras will be installed on all Montgomery County Public Schools buses by the start of the 2019-20 school year, according to a meeting video posted on the council’s YouTube page. The first day of classes will be held on Sept. 3, according to the district's website.
Didone and other Montgomery County Police Department officials, along with Todd Watkins, the transportation director for the district, met with council members to discuss the district’s current stop-arm camera program, which initially began as a pilot in 2014 and was later implemented in October 2016, according to the video.
Richard Hetherington of Montgomery County Police Department told council members, according to the video, that officers issued approximately 54,000 citations for the 2018-19 school year and captured about 280 violations per day.
Currently, Montgomery County Public Schools operates more than 1,400 school buses, according to a briefing report for the meeting, and of those buses, the report states that about 1,000 were equipped with stop-arm cameras and were in service conducting enforcement operations. The report also states that since the end of the 2018-19 school year, the Montgomery County Police Department added stop-arm cameras to 138 more of the district’s buses, while the district's remaining 300 buses are expected to be outfitted with cameras this month.
In addition, during the briefing, council members and law enforcement officials discussed common reasons motorists illegally pass school buses — from their disregard for the law to distracted driving — the importance of increasing public awareness of stop-arm running, and various concerns about the cost and operation of the district’s stop-arm camera program.