Strongsville police officers started riding on school buses the week of Dec. 3 to crack down on motorists who ignore a bus' flashing red lights and pass while it's stopped to let children on or off.
If an officer on the bus sees a violation, he radios to officers riding in a patrol car behind the bus, who stop the driver and issue a citation.
Police Chief Mark Fender said the department launched the crackdown as a way to raise awareness of school bus laws and safety.
A few days in, the effort already appeared to be working.
"Bus drivers are commenting that people are stopping," Fender said. "Our visibility has changed driver habits already."
Fender said the police department monitors national trends and saw problems with school bus safety elsewhere -- including an incident this fall in Indiana in which three children were killed crossing the street to board their bus. The department, which already works closely with the Strongsville City Schools, then talked to bus drivers and administrators and came up with the idea to put officers on buses.
They'll ride various buses sporadically through the end of the school year.
Generally, if school bus drivers see a motorst pass their bus with red lights flashing, they send the license plate number to the police department, which sends a warning letter to the vehicle's owner.
The officers-on-buses effort has generated plenty of comments on the police department's Facebook page
, as well as coverage by local TV and radio stations. Fender said he's pleased by the attention because it's reminding drivers to follow the law and keep kids safer at their bus stops.
"We wanted to generate awareness and conversation, and we've done that," he said.