INDIANAPOLIS — Starting Wednesday morning, you may start to notice more state and local law enforcement out in school zones and along bus routes.
Overtime patrols are being sponsored by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute as part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program.
“We know school buses are out there. Most of us have children that ride the bus. It’s no different. Treat that school bus as if your kids were on it, or as if your kids were getting on and off,” said Devon McDonalf, the Executive Director of the ICJI.
ICJI administers grants to help law enforcement pay for these overtime patrols. The program has been growing since 2019 and happens every spring and fall.
”When you see a bus, be prepared to stop,” McDonald said. “Don’t try to beat the stop-arm out. That choice could be lethal.”
IMPD is already ramping up these patrols, it got $80,000 to pay officers overtime to help out.
Lt. Michael DeHart with the IMPD Traffic Office was out Tuesday afternoon checking up on school buses and other drivers.
”We’re looking for stop arm violations, also we have officers in school zones running radar,” DeHart said.
The start of the increased patrols come after 7-year-old Sevion Sanford was hit and killed waiting for his bus on Friday.
DeHart reminded his officers working the patrols how important their role is.
”It’s really life and death,” he said.
It’s not yet clear what exactly led up to Sevion getting hit, but the tragedy serves as an important reminder for all drivers to take extra precautions when students are going to and from school.
“When you see that big yellow bus just be vigilant,” DeHart said.
DeHart said the penalties for breaking the law behind the wheel practically double when you do it in a school zone.
”It’s much more substantial, as far as the penalties go, for a school zone violation,” DeHart said. “Same for a stop arm violation.”
More IMPD officers out means it’s likely more tickets get written, but DeHart said just an added presence makes a difference in ways you can’t really see.
”We’re saving lives whether we know it or not, we’re slowing people down and getting the message out that there is more of us out there writing tickets and just being seen,” he said.
IMPD is still looking for the driver that hit Sevion Sanford and left the scene. IMPD said the car was a light-colored sedan.