police reform

Takoma Park Police to Give Vouchers Instead of Tickets for Some Car Issues

Maryland’s Takoma Park Police Department is joining a nationwide campaign called Lights On, giving drivers coupons for free car repairs when officers pull them over for some minor issues

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The next time you get pulled over by a police officer, instead of getting fined you could get free money. 

Maryland’s Takoma Park Police Department is joining a nationwide campaign to give drivers coupons for free repairs on their cars when officers pull them over for some minor car issues, such as a broken tail light or turn signal. 

The department said they’re working to build up relationships in the community and lower fear of police. 

“It’s not us against them,” Cpl. Thomas Sims said. “[We want to] try to let them know that we’re trying to help them.” 

“The officers are not gonna remember every person they pull over, but that person is gonna remember the officer who pulled them over and that voucher that they were given,” police department spokeswoman Cathy Plevy said. 

The effort is part of a campaign called Lights On. It was started in Minneapolis in 2016 in response to the death of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by an officer who pulled him over for a broken tail light. 

Sherman Patterson, vice president of the campaign, said he wanted to create change.

“I’ve been stopped before, and that anxiety goes up. You’re thinking about what’s next,” he said. “When they give the voucher, say, ‘Hey here’s this voucher,’ that anxiety goes down on both parties.” 

The cost of the vouchers good for repairs up to $250 will be covered in part by a nonprofit called MicroGrants and in part from speed camera ticket fines. 

The vouchers can be used at the repair shop RS Automotive, on Carroll Avenue. Owner Depeswar Doley said he’s ready to get to work helping drivers.

“They will be safe. That’s the most essential thing,” he said. “For them to do something like this, I think it’s a very, very good cause.”

Near Takoma Park, the Cheverly Police Department and the University of Maryland already participate in Lights Out. 

“I think it’s gonna foster good relationships with the police department, because the fact is that we’re trying to help people, and they’re not just out here writing tickets to take money,” Sims said. 

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