Northampton Police taking extra steps to ensure student safety near school buses

School is back in session this week and some police departments are taking extra precautions to make sure your kids are safe when they get on the school bus.
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 2:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 4:26 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - School is back in session this week and some police departments are taking extra precautions to make sure your kids are safe when they get on the school bus.

Northampton Public School students go back to school on Thursday. Earlier in the week, some viewers reached out with concerns about cars speeding by buses in their communities, so we took questions to police to find out how they’re making sure it’s a safe return to the classroom.

“I think it’s terrific…The more of the community that can support our kids being and feeling safe, the better,” said Northampton parent Kelly Coffey.

Coffey is preparing to send her kids off to their first day of school on Thursday.

“My older daughter, who’s going to JFK, will be going by bus for the first time in her life and she’s very excited about it,” Coffey noted.

Thanks to marked and unmarked Northampton police cars following the buses on their morning routes, her kids will have an extra set of eyes paying close attention to make sure they arrive safely.

“We’re aware of the bus routes and we will have marked and unmarked police vehicles trailing school buses looking for violations. We do this every year,” said Northampton Police Capt. Victor Caputo.

Earlier in the week, viewers reached out to our newsroom and shared photos of cars passing by school buses picking up students in Westfield, so we checked in with Northampton officers, who told Western Mass News that they assist buses every year on the first day of classes.

“A lot of the bigger, wider, faster streets get a lot of complaints of people passing school buses, which carry heavy fines, possible license suspension for subsequent offenses,” Caputo added.

Caputo told Western Mass News that there is a $245 fine for passing a stopped school bus and that amount goes up to $2,000 and a license suspension for repeat offenders, but he said he’s keeping his eyes on another offense, which carries a $40 penalty.

“I didn’t see so much of people passing school buses, but people fail to keep 100 feet back which is also a Mass. General Law,” Caputo noted.

He offered advice to pass along to your kids.

“Wait until the bus is completely stopped, the door is opened…The safety measures on the bus are fully activated before they go to step onto the bus and still look both ways before you enter the street because people aren’t always paying attention,” Caputo said.

Caputo told us they will also conduct these operations randomly throughout the school year to make sure drivers are abiding by the rules of the road.