Midland City Hostage Standoff Raises School Bus Safety Concerns


By Jessica Gertler

The hostage standoff in Midland City has raised new concerns among parents. Many are wondering if school buses are safe enough, and what needs to be done to prevent a situation like this from happening in the future.

"The camera looking down the length of the bus, and looking down at the driver area," says Tallassee City Schools Superintendent Kenneth Varner.

Every bus in the Tallassee City School System is equipped with security cameras, and no outsiders are allowed on the bus.

Varner says every bus driver has also received extensive training, which includes handling situations like the incident in Midland City where authorities say a man forced his way on to the bus, shot and killed a Dale County School bus driver and took a child hostage.

Varner says the school system is looking at ways to beef up security.  CBS 8 News asked him if arming bus drivers is the solution?

"I'm not sure that arming bus drivers is the right answer. I know that's a discussion being had regarding to buses and schools in general," says Varner. "It's sad that our society has gotten to the point that that's something we are considering."

And in Autauga County, Superintendent Spence Agee says bus safety is a top priority.

"We will do a study on this, an internal study, and identify ways to make our procedures better and more effective," he says.

Agee says the school system is purchasing 36 new buses equipped with a GPS tracking system.

"If we have a situation arise, each one of our bus drivers has a two-way radio that they can beep the transportation supervisor, who can then pull up a screen and know exactly where that bus is," he says.

CBS 8 did put in calls to other school systems. Tallapoosa County says they have security cameras on the buses where central office can watch what's happening. Montgomery Public Schools would not comment on the matter.

We want to know what you think. Do you think bus drivers should carry firearms? Head to our WAKA CBS 8 News Facebook page, and give us your opinion.

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sal. said on Thursday, Jan 31 at 5:55 PM

I would be concerned with the short tempers people have, what if the bus driver snaps . You give an angry person a gun you don't know who they'll use it on . Only a lawman should carry a firearm.

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