ROCKVILLE, Md. — On-board cameras have nailed at least 14,000 motorists who are seen blowing by stopped Montgomery County Maryland school buses with lights flashing as kids are loading or unloading.
At least one accused child molester has been charged based on what one camera saw.
One driver was charged after the cameras documented a car striking a teen in a Bethesda crosswalk. The girl survived.
The 2019-2010 school year will start with cameras now installed on all 1384 county school buses for the first time.
But for all the progress in protecting kids, Montgomery County police and school officials are on the defense about their contract with the company that is providing and operating the cameras.
The contract terms, originally with a company called Force Multiplier Solutions, which has now been succeeded by BusPatrol America "...appear to be ambiguously, and generously, tilted toward profitability for the vendor to the disadvantage of residents of Montgomery County," according to a report by the Montgomery County Inspector General's office.
"Montgomery County nor MCPS has not received any ticket revenue yet, and it is unknown when they will," the report says.
The Inspector General criticized police and school officials for eagerly doing business with Force Multiplier Solutions after the company's CEO was convicted in a fraud and bribery scandal that sent two Texas public officials to prison and bankrupted the school bus agency in Dallas.
The successor company, BusPatrol America, “other than changing the name, except for the CEO, many of the same managers, employees, equipment and contracts are still in place,” the IG's report said.
The report finds that because of contract terms that do not share revenue with the county, BusPatrol America and Force Multiplier Solutions have collected over $10 million in ticket revenue, while Montgomery County has recovered none of the $750,000 of tax dollars needed to run the program.
The contract, which was modeled on a nearly identical deal BusPatrol America has with a Louisiana school district allows the company to recover all the costs of installing and operating the cameras before any revenue will be shared with Montgomery county.
In a recent session with County Council members assistant police chief David Anderson defended the contract and pointed out that negotiations to extend the contract will begin soon, and will include revenue sharing proposals.
Anderson and Montgomery County Schools Transportation Director Todd Watkins said despite the Texas bribery scandal Force Multiplier Solutions and its successor BusPatrol America were the only contractors capable of putting cameras in the county's entire fleet of school buses.
"We wanted all the students to have the same protection," Watkins told Council Members. "Force Multiplier Solutions was the only camera enforcement company that came anywhere close to a whole fleet solution."
There are two years left on the five-year contract, Anderson said.