Council Committees to Discuss School Bus Cameras and More on Oct. 13
The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee and its Education Committee will meet jointly at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, for worksessions on the County’s School Resource Officers (SRO) program and its program to have cameras on school buses to deter drivers who attempt to illegally pass stopped buses.
The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Phil Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, and the Education Committee, which is chaired by Craig Rice and includes Councilmembers Andrews and Cherri Branson, will meet in the in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/ondemand/index.html .
The SRO program has been in operation in some form since the 2003-04 school year. The program has seen many different structures and staffing levels, experiencing significant reductions during the difficult economic conditions of FY2011-12. In FY13, the Council began increasing the SRO complement and rebuilding the program.
In FYI5, the Council approved sufficient funding to implement one SRO in each high school for the current school year. This complement includes contributions of a deputy sheriff from the Office of the Sheriff, an officer from the City of Rockville Police Department and an officer from the City of Gaithersburg Police Department.
The Police Department reports that SROs are making regular visits to middle schools and assisting with issues there.
The Council passed legislation in March 2012 enabling the County to implement school bus safety cameras. The purpose of the cameras is to monitor and enforce violations where vehicles pass a stopped school bus that has its flashing signals, stop sign and stop arm extended. The current fine is $125 per violation.
The Police Department implemented the program in January 2014. Twenty-five buses had cameras at that time and 75 additional buses were to be wired. That would allow police to move cameras among high priority routes as needed.
The Police Department indicates that of the 75 additional buses to be wired, 10 have been completed. There are no plans to install more cameras at this time. Since the implementation of the program in January 2014, 733 citations have been issued, of which 607 have been paid. This amounts to $78,250 collected in fines. Sixteen cases have been scheduled for court.
At 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Branson and Hans Riemer, will hold a worksession on the report and recommendations of the County’s Right to Vote Task Force.
The report contains 59 recommendations and includes recommendations that must be implemented by State agencies or by legislation through the Maryland General Assembly. It also includes recommendations that can be implemented at the County level without state action.
The focus of Monday’s worksession will be on recommendations that can be implemented without state action. For those recommendations that require state action, Council staff suggests that the Council President and the committee chair send a letter to the General Assembly and State Board of Elections, urging those entities to review and consider the report and recommendations.