Teenagers in Orem have been getting more citations than usual during the past few weeks, but these are the kind that the Orem Police Department likes to give out.
The citations are for positive acts that the teens are caught doing. The department began ticketing for positive actions last month and several kids have already received them.
“We were looking for something a little outside the box, out of the ordinary,” said Lt. Craig Martinez with the department. “We’re not only giving tickets, but the kids will have the experience of going to a court setting to be recognized for what they’ve done and to get rewards.”
Once each month, a special court session will be held, with a police officer acting as the judge, according to Martinez. The cited kids will be recognized for what they did and will be presented with some kind of reward. These could be things like a free day at the city’s recreation center or one that a local business has donated, such as bowling passes and passes to other venues.
“An officer from the Orem Police Department noticed that you were doing something good today so you got a ticket! This ticket is unlike any others!” it reads on the tickets the officers are giving out. Then, they are instructed to appear before the judge for their sentencing/reward.
Any youth up to age 18 is eligible to be ticketed. Martinez said that officers on patrol, in the schools or administrative officers driving around could see a youth doing something positive and present him or her with a ticket. School resource officers have given some out this month to kids who have been caught being very kind to others in the school.
Much of youths’ contacts with police officers are negative and usually only occur when something bad is happening, according to Martinez. This is a chance to make the contacts positive.
“It’s another way to bridge the gap between us and the community,” Martinez said. “For some kids, their only thought about police officers is that ‘They took my mom to jail.’”
“The youth of our community are our future. It is extremely important that they have positive interactions with the police in order to know that the rhetoric they may hear in music or see on social media and television are not necessarily true,” said Police Chief Gary Giles.
The positive ticketing program was announced on Orem Police Department’s Facebook page on Oct. 3 and reaction from the public was favorable.
“Rewarding positive sounds like a much better idea than punishing negative,” reads one comment.
“I hope that this will spread to many of our other law enforcement agencies throughout the state. This is an awesome idea,” reads another.