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Repair vouchers instead of tickets

Our view: Measure may help promote good citizen-cop relationships

Police departments in 16 cities have taken a new approach to encouraging drivers to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive — they have formed a partnership with a repair company, and are offering vouchers to get repaired, for free, such items as broken taillights and headlights and turn signals.
Not  too long ago, there also was a television news story on a police chief who took a unique perspective on dealing with drug users in his community — if they were willing to come and talk to him, he would get them help, no questions asked. And, more notably, he would not charge them with buying illegal drugs.
Some may see this as rewarding what is typically considered illegal activity. But these officers and their departments see this as a way of trying to help people overcome a bad situation, without penalizing them as they try to do so.
One would hope, of course, that officers are not constantly fixing someone’s car, nor sending someone to rehab every three months as they try to avoid prosecution. At some point, a helping hand becomes an enabling one. We assume that these officers are savvy enough to know when a helping hand is appreciated, and when it is being overly taken advantage of.
Regardless, we have to appreciate these law officers efforts. In these days when officers are being shot at by civilians and civilians are accusing officers of excessive force, any effort to bridge the gap is needed and should have our backing.
Because of the animosity that has built up over the generations between law enforcement and the public, we no longer have the “neighborhood” cop who walked the beat and got to know everyone, good and bad, in the area.
Law enforcement and the public it serves have become more and more disengaged. Maybe programs like these — from something as simple as handing out ice cream coupons or baseball cards to kids to vouchers for repairs to something as farfetching as offering rehabilitation — will help dispel the distrust that has become the norm.
And, hopefully, the public will respond in kind, and offer officers the help and support they need to keep us safe from harm.
Here’s to bridging the gulf — one voucher and one coupon at a time.
— L.C.