More buses to be equipped with cameras - WFSB 3 Connecticut

More buses to be equipped with cameras

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Torrington is turning to a new tool to keep its students safe when taking the bus to and from school.

The city is part of a growing number of school districts using cameras on the sides of school buses to record drivers speeding by stopped buses.

"It's one of those violations where motorists know they can get away," said Tom O'Connor, who with Redflex Student Guardian. "You don't have enough law enforcement to travel behind every single school bus."

The stop sign and the flashing red lights along the big yellow school bus should be a dead giveaway for drivers to stop, but that's not always the case.

"Right now we depend on school bus drivers or citizens who see a violation to report it and sometimes they might be hesitant," said Torrington police Chief Michael Maniago.

The city is partnering up with a company called Redflex Student Guardian which outfits school buses with exterior cameras.

Two buses in Torrington already have them and they're analyzing the bus routes before they equip four more as part of this pilot program.

When a bus is dropping off or picking up a student and its lights turn on, so do the cameras.

"If there is a violation, the system captures the video," O'Connor said. "It's viewed, verified and uploaded for law enforcement."

Torrington police can then view the video and determine if a violation has taken place. If so, the offender is mailed a $450 ticket.

According to O'Connor, the police department has monitored eight violations, with six of them being upheld.

According to city officials, the program comes at no costs to Torrington. There is actually an agreement in place that the company and the city will split the fees that are collected.

"Any fines that are collected, there is a percentage the city gets, company that owns the cameras, along with the state court system.," said Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham.

The state gets 20 percent and the city and Redflex Student Guardian divide the rest to help pay for the equipment.

In addition to Torrington, the city of Bristol also announced its partnership with Redflex Student Guardian on Monday and joins more than a dozen Connecticut municipalities already using the program, including West Hartford, Wolcott and Stamford. 

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