• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_node_status::operator_form() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::operator_form(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_filter_node_status.inc on line 13.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_term_node_tid::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/views_handler_filter_term_node_tid.inc on line 302.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.

Lights On! Minnesota program aims to improve officer-citizen relationship

Drivers who are pulled over in McLeod County for a faulty headlight may now receive a voucher that pays for the broken light instead of receiving a citation or “fix-it ticket.”
Lights On! Minnesota is a program intended to improve the relationship between police officers and the public while providing a voucher of up to $250 for much-needed safety repairs for busted or burned out lights. The vouchers work for headlights, taillights, turn signals, and virtually every bulb that contributes to on-road safety, usually at no cost to the driver.
The program is crowd-funded by the company MicroGrants — a nonprofit dedicated to improving the day-to-day life of low-income individuals through grants of around $1,000. MicroGrants created the Lights On! Minnesota program, with intentions of going national, as a method of replacing pricy citations with vouchers.
It utilizes crowd-funding and accepts donations of any size from willing donors as opposed to using taxpayer dollars.
The Glencoe Police Department and McLeod County sheriff’s office are already utilizing the vouchers and both Police Chief Jim Raiter and Sheriff Scott Rehmann said they’re pleased with the results thus far. They both attested to the main goal of the program, improving police-public interaction and relationships in the local community.
“I think it’s a great program,” Rehmann said.
Raiter echoed that sentiment, saying, “I think it’s a great thing,” adding that the relationship between the public and those who keep it safe needs mending, especially as the problem has been exacerbated by mainstream media in recent years.
Officer discretion
When it comes to handing out vouchers, the Lights On! Minnesota website, where individuals can donate and redeem vouchers, both Raiter and Rehmann said they’ve instructed their officers and deputies to decide themselves who gets a voucher — and who doesn’t.
Rehmann said if one of his deputies pulls over a seemingly expensive vehicle, like a Mercedez-Benz, the person operating the vehicle likely has the means to repair the light. He’s instructed his deputies not to hand out a voucher in such circumstances.
On a slightly different note, Raiter said the discretion he leaves to his officers is for different scenarios, like when an entire front corner of the bumper is smashed. He said a light would be the least of concerns in that situation, and that the driver would need to pursue a body shop for comprehensive repairs.
But the heads of both agencies, despite differences in opinion, leave the voucher-giving to those in the field, which includes discretionary decision-making.
Sgt. Aaron Ward, a deputy with the McLeod County sheriff’s office who works overnights, said he’s excited about the program mostly to improve relationships between himself and the people he encounters.
Although he says it’s not often a traffic stop turns into a contentious argument, Ward sees firsthand how the public gets nervous or anxious around police officers, especially during routine traffic stops. He thinks the program will twist that dynamic.
And Ward thinks Lights On! is good for everybody: “I think it’s a great thing. It’s got something for everybody,” he said.
Ward was referencing every sector that’s benefitting: the public, because the program offers financial assistance; officers and deputies, because of the potential of improved relationships with the public; local repair shops, which get more business; and the community, which is a safer place to travel with safer vehicle lighting.
“Now I just need to see some headlights out,” he said, excited to issue his first voucher.
And as for deciding which vehicles will get a voucher and which ones won’t, Ward said he wasn’t going to dileneate between nicer-looking vehicles and not-so-nice-looking vehicles.
“I would say anybody” who has a light out should get a voucher, Ward said. “Just because somebody has a nice car doesn’t mean they’re not living paycheck to paycheck.”
“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Ward concluded.