Grass Valley cops dole out tickets for good deeds
While no good deed goes unpunished, Grass Valley police are handing out tickets when they catch youth doing something positive.
However, these tickets come with rewards, said Det. Zack LaFerriere of the Grass Valley Police Department.
“It builds relationships with the police and the kids,” said Ned Russell, a volunteer with the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County, who helped push for the program’s implementation.
After years of being lobbied by Russell and others, the department embarked on a Positive Tickets pilot project this summer for officers patrolling downtown Grass Valley’s Thursday night markets.
It was based on a similar program in Richmond, Canada, that dramatically reduced juvenile arrests and referrals to courts, Russell said.
On Thursday night, LaFerriere said he watched hundreds of passersby disregard a soda cup from a local theater in the street.
“I watched people step over it and step around, kick it and avoid it all together,” he said. “Finally this high school girl walked by and picked it up and threw it in the trash can. I was just blown away.”
LaFerriere gave the girl a Positive Ticket. He also gave one to a girl selling buttons to raise funds for the family of a classmate who tragically died in a vehicle accident. Other officers have given them to kids helping seniors cross the street and other good deeds.
“We try to let people know we are watching for good things, too,” LaFerriere said. “The community is watching, we do care, and we want to reinforce good behavior.”
Fewer than 30 tickets have been handed out since June, LaFerriere said. Stubs from the tickets are entered into a raffle, for prizes that include movie tickets and gift certificates to Culture Shock Yogurt, Mountain Day Spa, Gold Rush Burgers and Safeway, among others, Russell said.
“It is not a quick fix kind of thing. It takes time for people to change their perception of the police department and for (the police) to the change what they look for,” Russell said.
“But long term, it improves the relationship with the police and the kids and whole community.”
The program is slated to continue this fall on school campuses, Russell said.
LaFerriere would like to see the tickets themselves instantly redeemable for similar business goodies, he said.
A pizza party is scheduled to take place at Grass Valley’s Round Table Pizza beginning at 5 p.m. today, to further reward the youth who have already received tickets, Russell said.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
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