LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Police in one southern Indiana county are taking extra measures to make sure the school year gets off to a safe start for students who ride school buses.
The Columbus, Indiana, Police Department in Bartholomew County announced Tuesday via it's official Facebook page that officers will be on buses to make sure drivers stop when school bus arms are in use. Authorities also say Indiana State Police troopers and officers from the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office will also be participating in the initiative.
The school year begins for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation on Wednesday.
In the post, the department wrote, "CPD is working closely with the Bartholomew County School Corporation for a safe start to the school year. CPD officers, along with deputies from the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office and troopers from Indiana State Police, will be conducting patrols Wednesday morning focusing on the safety of our school children. Local law enforcement officers will be riding on school buses and motorists who disregard school bus stop arms can expect to be ticketed. Please limit distractions, slow down (especially in school zones), and help ensure that our students arrive safely at school."
School bus safety has received lots of attention after 9-year-old girl Alivia Stahl and her twin 6-year-old brothers, Xzavier and Mason Ingle, were hit and killed by a pickup truck last October, while crossing a road near Rochester, Indiana, to board a school bus. A fourth child was critically injured.
Alyssa Shepherd, 24, of Rochester, was arrested and charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury.
The children's mother, Brittany Ingle, along with other family members, have advocated for laws that would help improve bus safety, such as prohibiting stops at locations where children would have to cross highways and requiring annual route safety reviews by school districts.
In an effort to improve safety, several Indiana police departments are getting a total of $380,000 to increase traffic enforcement at school bus stops and enforce new penalties put in place following the death of the three siblings.
The funds from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute come as Indiana children are heading back to school.
The grants will cover overtime enforcement for 39 police agencies over the next two months. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the funding Monday, saying police officers "will be enforcing increased fines and penalties for drivers who recklessly pass bus stops and drive aggressively."
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