Cameras to keep close eye on kids - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cameras to keep close eye on kids

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October 9, 2006

Albany-- School security is again a major issue at schools nationwide. Shootings are in the headlines and fights are a problem on many school buses. The Dougherty County school board approved a plan that will keep a closer eye on kids on buses.  

Malissa Jordan knows all about buses.  She has more than a decade of experience. "I've been driving a school bus for Dougherty County for 12 years now," says Jordan. Twelve years driving and twelve years spent learning about kids.

"I understand kids so I think I do a great job with them," says Jordan. But this understanding job isn't always the easiest.

"You're always going to have some kids who obey and some kids that don't obey but you have to have that care for kids and understanding of kids so you know how to handle kids," says Jordan.

Something new on the horizon will give Jordan and other Dougherty County school bus drivers a better handle on the children who ride the bus, a four camera digital video system. "We have three interior cameras that record the inside of the bus and then we have one camera that sits behind my head here that records what's going on in the door of the bus," says Fleet Manager Rick Wheeler.

Students are recorded getting on and off the bus and from all angles.  Fleet Manager Rick Wheeler says they help just in case anything questionable happens while in route.

"If we have a student incident, it will go to the principal of the school. The parents and the principal will review it together," says Wheeler. And the students filling the seats aren't the only ones being watched.  A camera also keeps a close eye on the person who drives them around.

"If a driver is supposed to have done something, said something, we have it right here. It's something that we can watch," says Wheeler.

Drivers are caught on tape making daily checks of the bus in the morning inside and out. Miss Jordan doesn't mind.

"It's fine with me with the camera on the bus," says Jordan. She says it'll make her job much easier, something she plans on continuing for years to come.

"As long as possible, another fifteen or twenty years," says Jordan. An extra watching eye will give her that extra comfort in the driver seat.

The school system is no stranger to cameras on buses.  In the 1990's they began using some handheld VHS cameras that could be switched between buses. They weren't the best and lately they haven't  been used much.

The new system has many features.  If something happens on a bus, the driver can just push a button and mark exactly when an event happens for easy viewing later.  Inputs can also be used to check driver speed, brakes and warning lights using GPS.

The new system will cost about $500,000 paid for with sales tax money. They hope to have the cameras installed on all buses by Christmas break. A few pilot ones will be installed as early as this month.

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