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Dozens of Western New York school children rode the school bus Thursday morning, with a patrol car not far behind.

That's because state, county and local law enforcement agencies from across eight Western New York counties cracked down on motorists passing school buses that were stopped to pick up students.

Regional police agencies involved in Thursday's "Operation Safe Stop" issued tickets to 17 motorists who illegally passed stopped school buses, according to state police officials in Batavia, who helped coordinate the campaign.

"The basic purpose is to make the motorists more aware of the dangers of passing stopped school buses," said Lt. Mark Koss, with the State Police A Troop in Batavia.

More than 167 police officers from 61 law-enforcement agencies in Western New York participated. Ten of the 17 tickets were handed out in Erie County. Police also gave 12 motorists tickets for other traffic violations.

Operation Safe Stop began four years ago in the Central New York area as a pilot project of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and since then has been expanded statewide.

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