Legislation sponsored by Assembly democrats Daniel Benson and Patricia Egan Jones to set penalties for tampering with school bus cameras and require monthly inspection of camera video footage was approved 75-1 Thursday by the full Assembly.
The sponsors said recent bus incidents in Paramus and Chesterfield as well as the recent cases of sexual assault on school buses in other school districts has prompted a closer look into bus safety protocols in the state.
“Ensuring safety for students should be paramount for school districts,” said Benson
(D-Mercer, Middlesex), who is chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Technology now provides us with an opportunity to see exactly what is happening on the bus and further ensure student rider safety. This bill makes it clear: If these cameras are tampered with, then there should be a penalty.”
The bill (A-4195) would establish that altering, destroying, concealing, removing, or disabling any camera or other monitoring device including any videotape, film or other medium used to record sound or images that is installed in a school bus is a crime of the fourth degree.
“Parents should feel comfortable knowing that when their children board the school bus, they will be safe,” said Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester), who is a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Employing technology such as cameras can help districts keep an eye on the activities that take place on the bus. Ensuring the cameras are fully operational and checked regularly should be law in New Jersey.”
The bill would require each school that uses cameras to record images to have the images randomly reviewed once per month. The bill also requires each school district to submit a plan to the Commissioner of Education for the monthly inspection of cameras and video footage from school buses.
The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.