Deputy on bus helps keep kids safe

OKEECHOBEE — A 53-year-old Okeechobee resident was arrested this week after allegedly being seen not stopping for a school bus by an on-board deputy.

According to an arrest report by Deputy Steven Pollock, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at approximately 6:21 a.m. on Feb. 20, Deputy Donnie Holmes was riding on Okeechobee County school bus #16 as it traveled south in the 3000 block of Northeast 128th Avenue.

Deputy Holmes reportedly observed a red motorcycle traveling northbound on Northeast 128th Avenue fail to stop for the red lights and stop signs activated on the bus at an Okeechobee County School Board assigned bus stop. Deputy Holmes then reportedly informed Deputy Pollock by radio of the motorcycle’s failure to stop before the bus. Instead, the motorcycle stopped next to the midway point of the bus.

Deputy Pollock reportedly got behind the red 2005 Kawasaki motorcycle to perform a traffic stop and apparently observed the license plate to not be a state issued license plate for a motorcycle, only having three numbers and appearing to be altered. The motorcycle reportedly continued to travel north to the 5000 block of Northeast 128th Avenue (Berman Road) where it came to a stop.

The report stated that Deputy Pollock made contact with the rider and informed them that the license plate was not the proper tag. Deputy Pollock informed the rider that they were stopped because a deputy on the bus saw them not stop properly when the bus activated its red lights and stop signs. Deputy Pollock also explained that the reason for the deputy’s presence on the bus was due to the complaints being received from bus drivers in regards to motor vehicles not stopping for the buses.

Deputy Pollock reportedly requested dispatch to check the status of the rider’s driver license and was informed that it was suspended recently on Nov. 9, 2017. Dispatch also ran the VIN of the Kawasaki motorcycle and discovered it to be stolen out of Savannah, Ga., which was confirmed through Florida Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center (FCIC/NCIC).

The report concluded that the rider was arrested, transported and booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on misdemeanor charges of knowingly driving while driver license or privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked and failure to register motor vehicle.

The rider was also issued a citation for the offense of passing a stopped school bus with red lights and stop signs activated. The bond was set at $500. Jail records indicate they have since been released on bond.

In a related matter, at the Feb, 22 meeting of the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Kelly Owens complimented the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office on their efforts in slowing the speeding trucks on Berman Road.

She said the word has gone out over the network of truck drivers to either slow down on Berman Road or find another route. She said in addition to increased presence by the OCSO, Florida Highway Patrol has also been enforcing traffic laws in that area.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said it is important for deputies to continue traffic enforcement in that area.

“Just last week a truck swerved to go around a school bus and sideswiped a Southeast Milk Truck,” he said. “It’s definitely a life and safety measure.

“I am glad law enforcement has come out in force,” he said, noting they are running radar “on both ends and in the middle” of the road.

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