Stop-arm cameras are video cameras that are mounted to a stop-arm on a school bus, which begin taping when students are picked up or dropped off. They provide a tool for law enforcement to use as evidence for prosection if someone passes a stopped school bus.
However, the initiative hasn’t really taken off, Policy Committee Chairman Paul Haggett told Board of Education members.
“That has proven to be somewhat unwieldy. It’s not really taken advantage of or utilized much statewide. It’s used regionally, primarily on Long Island,” Mr. Haggett said.
One of the issues in installing the cameras on school buses is their purchase.
“A state law was passed in 2019 that allows districts to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with local government where the municipality actually pays for the installation of stop-arm cameras. (Transportation Director) Allen Rowledge told us that he finds it’s not a very effective arrangement. There are not many local governments that have the funds to provide stop-arm cameras to school districts,” Mr. Haggett said.
Another issue is retention of the video.
“By law it’s supposed to be retained by the law enforcement agency of the local government. The school district would rather have that footage,” he said.
Mr. Haggett said the cameras cost about $1,000 and the purchase is eligible for state aid.
“They would be put on buses, for instance, that we would be purchasing on a year-to-year basis. At our meeting, Allen suggested that might be the way to go so we could pretty much on the cheap purchase some of these cameras and use them on some of the bus runs where there is a higher likelihood of motorists potentially passing a stopped school bus,” he said.
However, it won’t be happening soon, if it happens at all.
“(Superintendent Patrick) Brady has sought legal advice from counsel and talked to some of the local law enforcement folks, and we’re not ready to talk about the results of those meetings just yet. He would like to have further conversations with the committee before we come up with any recommendation potentially… requiring stop-arm cameras on some of our buses,” Mr. Haggett said.