Benson, Lopez & Jones Bill to Criminalize Tampering of School Bus Cameras Clears Committee

Bill Requires Monthly Inspection of Cameras of School Bus Video Footage

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel recently approved legislation sponsored by Assembly members Daniel Benson, Yvonne Lopez and Patricia Egan Jones to set penalties for tampering with school bus cameras and require monthly inspection of camera video footage.

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.

“Our children are on these buses,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “Every possible safety measure must be taken to protect their well-being. Jeopardizing the operation of these cameras in any way should be met with criminal penalty.”

“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 was released by the Assembly Transportation Committee and will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.