Mounted bus cameras saving Brevard taxpayers thousands of dollars

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

Surveillance video from buses in central Florida is saving tens of thousands of tax dollars each year, Channel 9 has learned.

The director of Brevard County's public buses said the cameras are helping the county beat insurance fraud cases, which is ultimately saving the agency and local residents money it would have cost to settle those claims.

In one of the recorded videos, a driver in Cocoa slams into a Space Coast area transit bus.

Initially, the car driver claimed the bus ran a red light, and the case might've cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars until video recorded from the bus' camera showed the opposite.

"Now it's not a he said, she said scenario. There's something concrete," said Brevard County risk manager Jerry Visco.

In another case, a passenger in a wheelchair claimed a driver rolled her off a curb, but the video proved the bus driver did nothing wrong.

"We can save thousands of dollars," said Visco.

Space Coast buses have eight cameras mounted all around, including one showing the driver's vantage point, and inside the bus are four additional cameras monitoring passengers and the driver.

Transit Director Jim Liesenfelt told Channel 9 he reviews bus video of questionable claims every single day.

"It becomes official record of the incident," he said.  "It's a wonderful training tool."

But the most important benefit is stopping fraud, said Visco.

"It provides for a defensible claim," he said.

Officials are also looking at new technology that would show what's happening on buses in real time. The plan to install anything like that is years off, but it would let Cocoa police monitor cameras for unruly passengers on board.