WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - West Lafayette police have continued to pull over more people for school bus stop arm violations.
"It's a daily occurrence as drivers are not paying attention to their surroundings," said Sgt. Jason Philhower, from the West Lafayette Police Department.
"Every day it's an issue," said Amanda Russ, Assistant Director for Future Scholars Daycare and Preschool.
Every morning, Sgt. Philhower and Officer Marcus Slifer with WLPD stake out Yeager Road. They are part of the departments traffic unit, whose main focus is school zone and school bus safety. Every day, they pull someone over.
"With the start of school back in August, we're now at about 78 school bus stop arm violations in West Lafayette," said Sgt. Philhower.
This issue became heightened after three children were killed while crossing the street to board their bus in Fulton County. The woman behind the wheel was found guilty in October. Alyssa Shepherd was charged with Reckless Homicide, Passing a School Bus Causing Injury and Criminal Recklessness.
News 18 caught a violation on camera Wednesday morning. Sgt. Philhower pulled out right away and pulled the driver over. He said they don't give out warnings, even for first time offenders. Instead, each violator gets a $234 ticket and a court date. They can choose to challenge the ticket in court if they want. A few minutes later, the bus driver saved another driver from getting a ticket by blasting the horn.
"People really need to learn, they need to know, you need to pay attention," said Sgt. Philhower. "It's one of those where I don't think you're going to learn from a break unfortunately."
A group of about 15 kids who attend Future Scholars get on and off their bus every day on Yeager.
"We used to walk across the street with the kids but they have actually changed the bus stops so that we don't have to cross the street with them anymore because it was so dangerous," said Russ.
Workers at Future Scholars kept asking for police presence on Yeager Road because of what they saw every day. They said this is the second year that they have had consistent police presence at their stop.
"We appreciate it very much," said Russ. "Sometimes we see police pulling over two or three cars at a time because they just blow right past them even if the police are sitting there."
"We kind of take it personally that we're looking out for the safety of the kids so it's part of our mission," said Sgt. Philhower. He added that sometimes he sees people in other cars clapping and cheering for him when he pulls someone over.
This is mission that they won't be stopping anytime soon. So drivers, if you don't want a ticket and want to save a life:
"Just think about if it was your child," said Russ.
"You have to drive behind what's at the end of your hood, you have to pay attention to your surroundings," said Sgt. Philhower.
WLPD wants to remind drivers that when there is no median in the road, all lanes of traffic must stop once the bus is stopped and the red lights are flashing.
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