EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) – One police department in Eastern North Carolina is patrolling each day to make sure drivers are following the rules of the road before and after school.

“We are 12 miles of jurisdiction here, so I thought, what a better community policing program than to have our officers out every morning and every afternoon following our school buses to ensure that our students got on and off safely,” said Emerald Isle Police Chief Michael Panzarella. 

For the past three years, the Emerald Isle Police Department has patrolled the roads to make sure other drivers follow the school bus stop arm laws. 

“Last year, we noted 30 stop arm violations here in Emerald Isle, of course, you know, one is one too many,” said Panzarella. 

This year the goal is to have less than that, but so far in the first few weeks of school, there’s already been one violation. The chief reminds drivers to focus on their surroundings when behind the wheel. 

“Always be attentive when driving because even though Carteret County does a really good job of picking and dropping off on the same side of the road, there may be an occasion when a child or children have to cross the road,” he said. 

The chief added even he will be out on the roads each day. 

“As the chief of police, one wouldn’t expect that I’d be the one out here doing it, but it’s our job. It’s what we’re charged to do, it’s what we’re sworn to do, and we’ll do our best to do it to the very fullest,” said Panzarella. 

He added that illegally passing a school bus in North Carolina is a minimum $500 fine.