BOC reviews agreement of school bus stop cameras

Forsyth County is taking time to review an agreement aimed at stopping drivers from speeding around stopped school buses. 

At a recent work session, commissioners postponed until their Jan. 23 work session decisions on several agreements with Forsyth County Schools related to a proposed program to have cameras on the school buses’ sign arms to give county staff a chance to look at the proposal.

“The Forsyth County Schools system has in place an agreement with a third party vendor called American Traffic Solutions,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “American Traffic Solutions is going to install the video cameras on the sign arms of the school buses, and they will, in fact, take the video of the vehicles that may be violating the prohibition on passing school buses.”

The matter was previously discussed by Forsyth County Schools and approved on Dec. 19. 

Commissioners were considering several agreements with the school system to make the cameras a reality. 

Deputy First Class James Cutcliff told commissioners the same officers in charge of school safety will review the footage.  

“The sheriff’s office … has agreed, if it meets everybody else’s approval, that we will have a school resource officer assigned or several assigned to do a review of the citations that are submitted by ATS,” Cutcliff said. 

There would be a chain of payment once fines are assessed.

According to Jarrard, the county will first pay ATS “any amounts then owed under their agreements with the school system,” then $3,333.33 of the fines to the Forsyth County Solicitors Office for attorneys to prosecute cases in state court. 

The remainder of the fines will go to the sheriff’s office for the school resources officer program and to the school system.

“The expectation is this will only be paid out of the funds collected,” Jarrard said. 

Previously, Mike Satterfield, director of transportation for Forsyth County Schools, said the new cameras will potentially generate revenues of $300-$1,000 per violation and will cost the county nothing.

Cutcliff said the program will likely start with getting the word out to the public and warnings. 

“We expect at the beginning the numbers will be higher, and we are very much hoping that they will decrease dramatically once the program is in full effect,” he said.

He said the program was meant more for safety than generating revenue. He added that several cameras would be installed on the buses. 

“The cameras are installed in multiple points on the buses,” Cutcliff said. “The videos are pretty accurate, and the cameras [and] the photographs that are taken are pretty accurate to include, in some cases, the driver. It captures the back of the tag as well as other points of the vehicle.”