Police increasing presence in school zones as students return

KENNEWICK, Wash. — You can expect to see more police presence in school zones this week.

Local law enforcement is working to make sure students get to school safely.  As school starts up, officers will be enforcing speed limits in school zones. When the lights are flashing, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour.  

Officer Roman Trujillo, a community relations officer with Kennewick Police Department, says drivers need to be more careful in school zones, even when the lights aren’t flashing.  

“It’s just a reminder to slow down, take a little bit more time, give yourself a little bit of extra time to get to and from work or wherever you’re going,” Trujillo said. “Especially in the mornings and afternoons when kids could be walking to and from school.” 

Trujillo says the penalties for speeding through a school zone are stiff. A ticket will cost you anywhere from more than $200 to more than $800, depending on how fast you’re going.  

“We don’t want people to focus on what the monetary penalties might be,” he said. “We want people to want the kids to be safe.”  

Local police departments will also be on the lookout for people breaking the law to get around school buses.  

When the stop arm of a bus is extended and its lights flashing, all cars travelling the same direction as the bus must stop.  

“If it is a two-lane road, meaning there’s one lane going each direction, then you have to stop regardless of what direction you’re going,” Trujillo said. “And you have to remain stopped until the lights stop flashing and the stop signal has been removed.” 

According to Trujillo, drivers must also stop if they are in a turn lane. Traffic traveling the opposite direction, however, can proceed with caution.  

If there are four lanes or more, the traffic going the opposite direction of the bus can proceed.