by Anneli Rufus
Parents, students, and staff at Berkeley's Cragmont Elementary School continue to dispute the Berkeley Police Department's account of what happened when officers seeking two armed robbery suspects stopped and boarded a bus on March 6, questioning school coach DeAndre Swygert as children looked on. At issue, among other things, is the number of officers involved and the direction in which their drawn weapons pointed.
One might reasonably assume that security cameras on the bus would have recorded the incident, and that such cameras would be fixtures on expensive high-tech buses criscrossing a county known for its high crime rate. But Clarence Johnson, AC Transit's media affairs manager, says the new Van Hool buses plying the Berkeley Hills are among many in the fleet that don't have cameras.
"New buses are not necessarily" outfitted with cameras, Johnson says. "We're in the process of getting grants to get some more of them equipped with cameras, but even those wouldn't show what you're looking for" that is, they wouldn't show police boarding the bus and interfacing with passengers "because they span the outside, not the inside of the bus, for accident purposes."
To document incidents inside buses for law enforcement or other purposes, Johnson says, "we'd have to have a series of cameras" positioned throughout the interior at various angles "to capture anything worthwhile."
Well, that's another reason for AC Transit's Van Hools to be controversial.