Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Toronto Bus Shooting Caught on Camera

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Houston Metro Bus Video Shows Crash

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

School Bus Driver Charged with Homicide

A school bus driver was listening to his iPod, talking on his cell phone and ran 10 stop signs before a deadly crash in Montgomery County last month, prosecutors said Monday.

Frederick Poust III has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection to the February 17 crash.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Poust, 38, was listening to his iPod, chatting on his cell phone via a bluetooth device and hadn't slept in two days when he caused a crash that left a 27-year-old man dead.

The accident was caught on tape by the school bus' camera and allegedly shows the bus going through 10 stop signs before crashing into a car driven by 41-year-old Freddie Carroll. Carroll was seriously injured and his passenger, 27-year-old Richard Taylor, was killed. Carroll told Eyewitness News that he has had eight surgeries in three weeks.

Authorities said Poust was behind the wheel and 45 students were on board a Perkiomen Valley school bus when it struck Carroll's car on Route 73.

Police said the bus was turning into the Perkiomen Valley Middle School West parking lot when it collided with a 1999 Honda Civic.

"Unfortunately his recklessness led to Mr. Taylor's death and for that we have charged him with homicide," said Ferman.

Poust was officially charged with vehicular homicide and 45 counts of reckless endangerment.

The Perkiomen Valley School District released the following statement:

"We are just learning the details of the charges and can't comment on those. However, as always, the safety of our school children is the first priority of the Perkiomen Valley School District. We will do everything we can to ensure that all of our students are transported safely to and from their school buildings each and every day.

The Perkiomen Valley School District contracts with Student Transportation of America to operate our school bus service because of the company's excellent safety record and its first rate training program for its drivers.

The alleged actions of one driver on one day should not reflect negatively on the difficult work school bus drivers do safely and successfully every day.

We defer to the decision of the appropriate law enforcement authorities regarding their initiation of criminal charges relating to this tragic accident and believe that further comment regarding those charges would be inappropriate pending the disposition of the charges. We will, of course, continue to fully cooperate with the appropriate authorities in regard to this matter."

Attorney Tom Kline is representing Freddie Carroll and he filed a lawsuit suit Monday against the company that hires the bus drivers for the district.

"It's a significant oversight to allow a person who had a prior fatality on his record to be unknown by the bus company which is allowing him to drive a bus," said Kline.

The company, Student Transportations, sent out a statement saying it would not comment on the situation because it is now a legal matter.

Poust was previously cited in a November 1999 crash that claimed the life of a two-year-old girl. He told police he was dialing his cell phone when he ran a stop sign and struck the other vehicle in Hilltown Township.

Poust's employer said a background check did not reveal the details of the crash and he had no subsequent violations prior to his hiring in February 2009.

Poust remains in the Montgomery County prison in lieu of $150,000 cash bail.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mobile Monitoring: Keeping Buses Safer

By Larry Mays

Surveillance cameras have been on buses for years. The video, recorded by a bus-mounted DVR or VCR, provides law enforcement officials with an opportunity to review criminal events. Transit operators can also look at the video to check on the driver’s performance.

The major problem with these reviews is they cannot be performed until the recorder has been retrieved — often long after an event has taken place.

The Maryland Transit Administration has plans to change that. The agency recently announced it will outfit its entire 700-bus fleet with video surveillance cameras and related equipment capable of downloading video at one of several depots. Upon arriving at the depot, the buses will electronically authenticate themselves then use a Wi-Fi hotspot to “dump” all video or just that tagged by alarm buttons.

The video will then be sent wirelessly to a central dispatch center. This way video can be available almost instantly, giving law enforcement officials a jump on indentifying suspects, witnesses and crimes. As anyone in law enforcement knows, time is critical in a criminal investigation.

The MTA, which plans to complete the project by early next year, has already placed the equipment on 130 of its new and existing buses.

Another goal for the new system will be the transmission of the downloaded video to MTA police squad cars in the field. That will still take an expanded wireless network and the placement of receiving technology in the cars.

We are not that far away from being able to transmit live, real-time streaming video from buses anywhere in a city. That would be possible by taking advantage of the latest security technology and the 3G networks or the wireless mesh networks that many cities across the country already have in place.

These networks provide a path for video to be transmitted from a surveillance camera to a central monitoring station operated by a school or transit authority, private provider or security monitoring company. Each camera on the bus is equipped with either a radio transmitter or 3G card. As the bus travels across town, the video is transmitted to the nearest wireless node and routed to the monitoring station.

By adding a GPS unit to each vehicle, a bus’ position could be pinpointed within a few meters. Then when an event takes place, a trained professional monitoring the cameras can see what is happening and knows where the bus is located. With existing technology, these coordinates are integrated in a way so the monitoring center knows the exact 9-1-1 dispatch number to call. Information can be shared with local law enforcement to provide a faster and more appropriate response.

Bus passengers and drivers get an extra feeling of safety with the cameras on board. Law enforcement will love the MTA system as the cameras act as a force multiplier for their officers on the streets. The video equipment also helps to harden the transit system against terrorists.

And the MTA officials aren’t stopping with video surveillance on buses. They already have hundreds of wireless cameras throughout Baltimore that cover metro and light rail stations. The video is transmitted to a central command center for monitoring. And they would like to add other detection systems, such as chemical and radiological devices, to further enhance the safety of transit passengers and other citizens.

”When trying to solve crimes, the first few hours are extremely important and this video capability allows us — literally at a moment’s notice — to respond to crime,” said Col. John Gavrillis, chief of police for the Maryland Transit Authority. “The MTA has really taken the lead among the transit agencies in utilizing video capabilities to secure their facilities.”

Indeed they have. They should be commended for taking new and existing technologies and combining them into a complete solution. Moving forward, we need to see this type of video surveillance expanded to other transit agencies across the country.

Larry Mays is group director for transportation and logistics for ADT Security Services. He brings 31 years of transportation information management experience, helping to develop strategic network-based solutions for companies such as Unisys and Pan American World Airways.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Securing Mass Transit Networks Against Crime and Terrorism (Webcast Archive)


Feb. 25, 2010, webcast from SecurityInfoWatch.com, a roundtable of leading transit security police administrators and transit industry experts. Our roundtable panel examined the overall scope of threats faced by public transit systems, including both daily crimes as well as the imminent threat of terrorist acts. We examined trends in securing the transit systems, including increased police presence, sweeps, technology usage, anti-terror teams, catastrophic event planning and transit security funding.

Archive expires February 26, 2011.