CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County buses may be getting a technology upgrade in 2021 to help keep students safe.
At its Wednesday meeting, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors approved the proposed public hearing date for Dec. 16 to consider establishing a program of video cameras on school buses to record anyone passing the buses when they are stopped.
Stop-arm camera programs have been enacted through legislation in 22 states, allowing local governments and school systems to use this technology to enforce school bus safety laws.
According to Chesterfield County Police, 160 drivers have been cited for passing a school bus in the county over the course of the past five years. However, officials predict this statistic is on the low end because law enforcement officers likely would have been present at the time of the incident in order to issue the citations.
Other states have enacted stop-arm camera legislation to provide evidence that the accused driver illegally passed a school bus because it can otherwise be difficult to prove. According to the Code of Virginia:
In any prosecution for which a summons charging a violation of this section was issued within 10 days of the alleged violation, proof that the motor vehicle described in the summons was operated in violation of this section, together with proof that the defendant was at the time of such violation the registered owner of the vehicle, as required by Chapter 6 (§ 46.2-600 et seq.) shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that the registered owner of the vehicle was the person who operated the vehicle at the place where, and for the time during which, the violation occurred.
If approved, Chesterfield County Public Schools would partner with a vendor to install and maintain stop-arm cameras on the district’s fleet of school buses. Over Spring Break 2021, 10 percent of buses would be equipped with the cameras, with the goal of installing cameras on the remaining buses over the summer to prepare for the 2021-22 school year.
The Chesterfield County Police Department would be charged with reviewing video evidence and determining whether to issue a citation to the owner of the vehicle involved. If authorities decide to move forward, a $250 ticket would be mailed by the vendor to the vehicle’s owner.
As the plan stands currently, Chesterfield County will receive 40 percent of the ticket revenue, while 60 percent will go to the vendor. This additional income would be used to hire one or two staff in the Police Department to review the evidence packets generated by the stop-arm cameras, which officials say could either be a civilian or uniformed police officer.
Footage from the stop-arm cameras reportedly will be stored in on-board DVRs on each bus, and then uploaded, encrypted, to the cloud each day.
This proposed amendment to County Cody will be considered during a Public Hearing next month.