Law Enforcement Following Buses, Searching for Violators

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford Co. law enforcement agencies are increasing their presence in and around school zones for the next two weeks, in an effort to crack down on violations that pose immense danger to students.

The initiative is called "Operation School Watch." Police officers and sheriff's deputies are using both marked and unmarked law enforcement vehicles to look for people who fail to stop for stop arms, speed in school zones, fail to buckle up or blow through school zone cross walks.

Officer J. Brian Price with the Greensboro Police Department said day one of the initiative was highly effective. Police caught several people speeding and even discovered one person did not have her children properly fastened in car seats.

Operation School Watch starts at 7:30 a.m. each day and will remain in place through Sept. 5. After that, police plan to continue an increased presence in school zones through the entire school year.

Guilford County Schools transportation director Jeff Harris said Guilford County Schools is also attempting to increase the district's effort to catch violators. GCS has installed five camera systems, valued at $3,000 each. Harris said ultimately, the district would like to install cameras in all of the 609 buses, but that effort would be cost more than one million dollars. Two of the five current systems come from state-provided grant money. Harris said the district took extra funds to purchase the three other systems.

Aside from catching violators, Harris said it is even more important to educate students before accidents happen. He said it is critical for students to remember to stand behind the curb--not on the street--and to wait for all traffic to stop in both directions before they cross. Additionally, all students--particularly the older students--need to avoid bus stop distractions, like cell phones, iPads and headsets.

In terms of future safety precautions, Harris said the district is currently in a bidding process for GPS tracking systems, which Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools has installed on all of its buses.


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