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Iowa City Hopes to Add School Bus Cameras Before Classes Start

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Officials in Iowa City say they’re optimistic every bus in the Iowa City Community School District will be equipped with external-facing video cameras when school resumes next month.

The cameras are being mounted on the stop arm and will be used to help bus drivers file reports after vehicles fail to stop when the arm is extended, said Chace Ramey, Chief Community Affairs Officer for the district.

“The stop arm cameras are one piece of our overall safety and security plan,” Ramey said.

Drivers who illegally pass a school bus are subject to a fine ranging from $250 to $675 dollars for their first offense. Such offenses can also have a big impact on insurance rates for drivers.

“Anytime we have video footage it does enhance the case, it takes the burden off the witness,” said Sgt. Scott Gaarde of the Iowa City Police Department.

In Russia, dashboard cameras have become popular as a way to decrease insurance costs and deter insurance scammers. Internet videos have recently surfaced of the cameras catching apparent scam artists pretending to be hit by cars, while the video shows another story.

Such cases aren’t a large problem in the United States, but some speculate more cameras could soon be added to personal vehicles. Gaarde said he never has dealt with a case involving personal-use dash camera video, but frequently receives cellphone video during an investigation. Cameras in cars may not be far off, he said.

“I think it’s a very reasonable jump with the advances in technology,” he said.

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