BICKNELL, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Right outside the North Knox Junior-Senior High School, Knox County Sheriff’s Officer Major James Wehrman patrolled outside the entrance to the school parking lot.
Just up the road was another officer.
The additional patrols are all a part of the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement campaign, or SAVE, that includes over 200 police agencies across Indiana.
Wehrman said he hopes the campaign can help raise awareness about the law.
“I don’t think it’s really malicious violations, it’s just I don’t think they know the law and what they’re allowed to do,” he said.
Wehrman said this past school year, he reported 43 stop arm violations. Many of them were caught by cameras that are equipped on North Knox School buses.
North Knox School Corporation Transportation Director Bryant Heffernan said a bus stop on State Route 67, near N. Bruce Road, was the worst spot.
The stop arm [violations] were occurring almost daily,” he said. “They were cars passing in the four lane, and so it was people just thinking, ‘Hey, I have the right to still pass if I get over in this other lane.’ I was just sending these in left and right, day after day.”
Heffernan said they moved the bus stop during the school year, in part due to visibility concerns.
Knox County Sheriff Doug Vantlin said he thinks doing this at the start of the school year, when some may have forgotten about the law, is important.
“I think after a while we start to get complacent. We have to keep an eye out, look out for the buses, look out for everyone that’s on the road because the roads are more crowded in the morning when kids are coming in and in the evening when they are leaving school,” Vantlin said.
Wehrman emphasized the increased law enforcement was to try and ensure safety for those commuting to and from school.
“It doesn’t take long for social media to be firing up once they see one marked deputy in the area,” Wehrman said. “They may think he’s doing a, stopping cars for speeding or whatever, but really we’re just trying to be seen and trying to slow the kids down, make sure they’re getting to school safe.”
Wehrman also said it’s important to know the consequences following a state law passed in 2019.
“A lot of these people don’t realize is since they’ve changed this law, your first offense is an infraction which you can be fined up to $10,000. And if you’re found guilty on the first one, if you get another stop arm violation, that’s a misdemeanor,” he said.