Video surveillance on Copperas Cove school buses continues to reduce suspensions and school violence.
Transportation Director Gary Elliot said the school district has seen a decline in school bus-related incidents compared to last year, with only 30 suspensions so far this year.
“Those are very, very low numbers,” Elliot said. “We usually have right around 100 (suspensions) around this time. The cameras are a big part of it, because the students know they’re being videotaped.”
The surveillance program was discussed at a Dec. 9 school board workshop.
“Those cameras make discipline on buses easy,” Trustee Jim Copeland said.
All 68 of the district’s route buses are fitted with Gatekeeper surveillance cameras and one-third of those are infrared capable, which Elliot said helps during early morning hours when it is still dark outside.
Students can be suspended from school bus transportation for several major infractions, including bullying, fighting and constant use of profane language. With every bus incident, a referral is written and at least two staff members review the video footage before taking appropriate action.
Copperas Cove High School senior Kelseigh Fife recalled a time when the surveillance cameras captured an incident on the bus.
“(The camera) did help me. It got somebody in trouble that physically hurt me,” Fife said. “I did feel safer and I didn’t have any problems after that.”
Fife and Elliot said the cameras deter most students from violating bus rules.
“I think that it showed other people, once the cameras were on the bus, that they couldn’t get away with trying to violate the bus rules,” Fife said.
The cameras, coupled with other procedures such as assigned seating, have been a major factor in the decline of student bus-related incidents and suspensions. Elliot said route building, or matching routes with specific drivers, is another way to help ensure consistency and further bus safety.
“Every year there’s a decline (in disciplinary issues),” Elliot said. “I hope it stays this way, because it just shows that what we are doing works.”