Southwestern Regional Police issue 'positive tickets'
Locals in Heidelberg, Manheim and North Codorus townships and Spring Grove borough should be on the lookout for their local officers.
Two Southwestern Regional Police officers are on high alert — not just for crime, but for good behavior as well. When they see people doing something notably positive, they will reward them with a "positive ticket," which includes a voucher for a free ice cream cone at Papertown Dairy.
Chief Greg Bean said the initiative was the idea of two officers: Holly Rowland, who has been with the department for four years, and Stu Harrison, a Southwestern officer for 14 years. The pair put in their own money to pay for the vouchers.
“It’s all out of their pocket, and I think it’s maybe more meaningful for that reason,” the chief said.
Relief, gratitude: The initiative kicked off on the weekend of Aug. 20, and so far the officers have given out many "positive tickets."
“I would say when we approach most people, they sort of stiffen up to some degree, but when they find out they’re being rewarded for something they did ... well, I’d say it’s relief at first and then gratitude,” Bean said.
The chief said within three days of starting, they gave out tickets to two children who were wearing helmets while on their scooters and a woman who was putting her child in a car seat, among others.
“I think the officers get as much out of it as hopefully the public does, in that they want to be in a positive situation,” Bean said.
Tickets: Among the first positive ticket recipients were 9-year-old twins Dawsen and Draycen Wise, second-graders at Spring Grove Elementary.
Their mother, Candi March, said the two were riding their scooters in their Spring Grove neighborhood, with their helmets on, when a neighbor came in and alerted her that the two were talking to an officer.
“I was thinking, ‘What am I doing wrong?’” March said.
It turned out that Harrison was rewarding the two for their good helmet-wearing behavior.
March said what the officers have been doing with the tickets is good, because many times people will see officers and wonder if they're doing something wrong.
“I think more kids need to know ... when they’re doing good," she said. "They need to be recognized, too.”
She said her children didn't wait long to cash in on those Papertown Dairy vouchers — they ended up using them that night.
March also said the tickets are a good way to push kids to wear helmets, something she has always impressed on her children.
“I think it will help for them stubborn ones who don’t want to wear it,” she added.
March said Harrison could not have been nicer to the children, and the impact he had on them was positive.
"To them, that's something they're always going to remember," she said.
As of Saturday afternoon, Bean said only Rowland and Harrison were handing out the tickets, but it's possible other officers could follow suit.
“I think this is what they’d like to do every day,” he said.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.