Monroe County deputies report 96 school bus stop arm violations in 2019

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has cited nearly 100 people this year for breaking the law and ignoring stopped school buses.

The new law went into effect after three children died while trying to board their school bus. The horrific tragedy in Fulton County hit home for Deputy Andrew Blake.

“It’s a very sad thing and I don’t ever want to be on scene like that,” said Blake.

So, this year, he’s made school bus safety a top priority. In 2019, Deputy Blake and his team reported 96 school bus stop arm citations. Every citation could mean a fine of more than $200.

“Our goal is to write zero though,” Blake added, “Drive like it’s your kid at the school bus stop.”

The law came after a crash killed three children as they were walking to the school bus in October 2018. A judge sentenced the driver, Alyssa Shepherd, to four years in prison.

“Obviously we all feel as a family that killing three children should have been a more stringent penalty,” said Michael Schwab, the Grandfather of the three children killed following the sentencing.

As for Blake, he says he and his deputies have notice several dangerous trends on the roads this year. And if they catch you in addition to the fine you could get jail time or a suspended license.

“It comes down to one of two things. Either people that are driving don’t know the law that they need to stop,” said Blake. “People are just driving very fast and, in a rush, to get where they’re going.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s office works closely with the school corporation, who recently added stop arm cameras to their buses. It’s a technology Blake says that will continue to help hold people accountable.

“I would recommend other agencies across the state just to make this a priority,” Blake suggested. “Talk to your directors of transportation for your school corporations, figure out where your problem areas are.”

Enforcing the law to get people to not only stop but understand what could happen.

“The biggest thing I try to do on these traffic stops is to turn it into an educational moment. Explain to these drivers what the conditions are in which they’re supposed to be stopping,” said Blake.

The mother of the three children who were killed was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs on Wednesday, after lunging and making contact with Shepherd. Shepherd will immediately begin her sentence.

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