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Police say school bus camera footage is not being shared with them

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- 

South Bend Community School Corporation is working to buy cameras for all its 209 buses. The district has had cameras on some buses for about a year and a half, but local law enforcement says they have yet to see any videos to hold those drivers accountable. 

Since the district installed cameras on some buses in August of 2017, leaders say they’ve seen quite a few violations. 

“We’re having a heck of a time getting motorists to stop,” said Juan Martinez-Legus, the director of transportation for SBCSC. "When you're actually looking at the number of buses we have out there versus the number of violations we're having, we had 402 on a one day count…and it's not as easy as moving a bus around because the bus is attached to the particular route, that's why we just need to have them on every single bus."

Keeping kids’ safety first is why the district says it decided to put cameras on some of the buses.

“They record whenever the bus is going down the road, or the bus is in the ‘on’ position they are recording,” said Martinez-Legus.

The plan was to catch drivers with the video, send it to police and then forward the footage to the prosecutor’s office. Although South Bend police say they are in communication with the district and work to patrol problem areas, they haven’t received any of those videos from the school. So the prosecutor hasn’t seen any video either.

“Thus far we have gotten no videos from South Bend Community School Corporation,” said Ken Cotter, the St. Joseph Count prosecutor.

Cotter says he fully supports the school’s efforts to put more cameras on buses.

“Those who are putting their kids in danger, I will hold them accountable, I just need to be able to get the evidence to do that,” he said.

The school district says they have sent videos, although not in a while to South Bend Police.

“South Bend, yeah, it’s been a while since they have,” said Martinez-Legus. “Indiana State Police, they receive documentation from us. They’ve issued citations.”

But Indiana State Police says they’ve only received pictures, and those pictures haven’t been enough to make a case out of.

Martinez-Legus says the district is pulling together funds to buy new cameras for all buses.

“It would be a brand new system, up-to-date and it would be the same for the entire fleet,” he said.

And he adds that the new equipment will help to hold drivers accountable by being higher quality and faster.

“With the new camera systems that we will be installing there will be some great improvements and there will be a lot more videos coming across,” he said.

Those new cameras are planned to roll out before the start of the next school year.

 

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