Stop arm cameras, heightened security measures for new Suffolk school year

Stop arm cameras, heightened security measures for new Suffolk school year

SUFFOLK, Va. — The Suffolk Public Schools (SPS) system is taking additional steps to ensure their students are safe coming to and while inside of school buildings.

“Our kids are our most prized possession and a lot of people think the job of schools is to educate kids but it’s actually to keep them safe,” said Suffolk Public School Superintendent Dr. John Gordon as he and Mayor Mike Duman roamed the halls of King’s Fork Middle School greeting kids on their first day back.

“It’s a big day for all the students in Suffolk,” added Mayor Duman.

Ahead of the new school year, the school district has equipped 50 of its buses with new, high-definition bus stop arm cameras.

If you’re caught running a , cameras will automatically record your license plate.

EHOURL News 3 // Ian Teasly

The bus driver does not have to do anything. Rather, after recording your vehicle, the cameras will send that information to the police station and Suffolk PD will issue a $250 ticket from there.

The district’s transportation director, Kevin Privott, says the idea for these cameras came after they received several complains from community members.

“We had so many complaints. It seems like when school gets in, everybody’s in a hurry. Nobody wants to slow down. And this can really be a problem,” said Privott. “We’ve had several instances where kids almost got hit trying to load and unload school buses. So I think that is what prompted them to put the cameras on the school buses.”

When asked about the price of these cameras, a spokesperson for the school responded, “No cost to the school system or the city. The vendor installed it at no cost to Suffolk and [will] collect all of the revenues produced from the tickets.”

In addition to the stop arm cameras, the city is also implementing school zone cameras.

These speed zone cameras will be outside of ten Suffolk schools, and those caught speeding in school zones will face a fine of $100.

“Some of our school zones are 25 some are 35,” said Mayor Duman. “You get about 9 mph over, I’m not telling you to drive 9 mph over, but you won’t be cited unless you’re going a minimum of 9 miles an hour over.”

Here is a list of what schools will be equipped with speed zone cameras:

  • Creekside Elementary
  • Elephants Fork Elementary
  • Florence Bowser Elementary
  • Nansemond Parkway Elementary
  • Mack Benn Jr. Elementary
  • Oakland Elementary
  • John Yeates Middle
  • Kings Fork Middle
  • Kings Fork High
  • Nansemond Suffolk Academy (Pruden Boulevard and Harbour View Blvd)
  • But getting kids to school is only half the battle. Suffolk Public Schools have also implemented several new safety measures inside school buildings.
    Starting this year, every SPS student will walk through metal detectors upon arrival to school.

    The district has hired 33 intervention specialists, an increase of 23 from last year. An additional 10 specialized behavioral intervention specialists with focus on student conduct.

    “When you’ve got a student that’s upset, instead of stopping instruction, you can go ahead and get some additional help they come in, they’ll help work with the student, bring him to the counselors,” explained David LeFevre, the coordinator of student services for SPS. “We know that in the end, it’s all about the mental piece of how our kids are coming to us. Are you have you been fed? Are you mentally and socially ready to be able to address the hard day of being in school?”

    LeFevre has also employed 28 school safety officers and has worked with Suffolk Police and Suffolk Fire over the summer to create thorough intruder and lock down drills.

    With a focus on mental health, LeFevre asks that parents and families be involved in their students education and contact the district if they sense their child is struggling emotionally.

    “If you hear something, say something, let us know,” he said. “Let our guidance counselors work with you. Let Western Tidewater get you involved in working with them. We have a plethora of resources. We just need to get them out.”

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