The city of Falls Church, Virginia, suspended its school bus stop-arm camera program as of Oct. 2 as a result of an official advisory opinion from the commonwealth's attorney general, according to a news release from the city.
At issue is whether citations of those caught on video passing a school bus can be mailed to the violator or must be served in person. When a "Video-Monitoring on School Buses" bill was signed into law in 2011, it did not specifically include the "citation-by-mail" provision. As a result, the current handling of citations in the city of Falls Church by mail has stopped, pending changes in the legislation.
“The school bus camera program was effective,” Police Chief Mary Gavin said. “We hope the legislature will come around to bring this program back.”
No citations from the cameras have been issued since the program was suspended on Oct. 2. It is still illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended.
The program is a partnership between Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS), the Falls Church Police Department and American Traffic Solutions (ATS). In October 2013, high-resolution cameras were installed on the exterior of six FCCPS school buses.
When a school bus stopped and extended the stop arm, the camera automatically detected when a vehicle was passing. The violation data and images were wirelessly uploaded to ATS and were later reviewed by local law enforcement for approval or rejection. If approved, a citation was issued and mailed to the vehicle owner.
The city's Focus on Safety (Red Light Cameras) program is not affected.