Last week, a Weston School Bus driver got quite the scare when a car swerved in front of him on the Mass Pike before slamming on its brakes and coming to a full stop. Before the driver could pull around the car, the man tried to enter his bus and began jumping on the hood to peek into the windows. That bus driver, Joe Rizoli, then pointed to the dash camera on the bus to let the man know he was being recorded. It was then that the man walked away, but not before Mr. Rizoli had already been shaken by what could have happened if he hadn't pointed it out. "I didn't know if he was going to try and smash the windshield, break the wipers-I didn't know what he was trying to do," said Rizoli, who has been a bus driver for the Town of Weston for nearly 40 years.
What he expected was support and understanding from his superiors as he recovered from the shock, however what he was met with instead surprised him almost more than the incident itself. Rizoli said officials were more concerned with him having a camera on the bus than the actual incident-ironically, an incident in which the camera served as the protection he had always hoped he wouldn't need. "Having a dash cam on the bus protects not only the driver, it protects the kids on it, and gives you the exact thing of what happened in any incident." Without that camera, Rizoli says, they may not have been able to arrest 42 year old Kevin Crowe of Dorchester. Crowe had his license revoked immediately. "After he saw that dash cam, he backed off."
"In the town of Weston, unfortunately, we have a little rule that says we're not supposed to have electronic devices in our school buses. I agree that we shouldn't have cell phones driving a school bus-totally agree there-but if I didn't have this dash cam, well I wouldn't know what this guy was going to do. The fact that he saw the dash cam and backed off, I thought, wow this is great," says Rizoli.
WMCT News spoke to Maureen Greulich, Superintendent of Schools in Marlborough, who says while she can't speak for other towns, the City of Marlborough does protect their students and their drivers with cameras. "We have a contract with a bus company that uses dashboard cameras as well as internal cameras. We often need to look at the tape to review reported incidents between students, etc. employing the internal cameras," says Greulich.
As for Mr. Rizoli's bus, there's been no word as to if he will be allowed to keep his cameras, but he says it's a no brainer for him to put the safety of the children first. "It's a safety issue, it protects the town-I think it would be great if we could have them."