SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Stop with your hands up: You have just been selected to receive a good behavior citation.
That is not what one normally hears from a police officer, but it’s what will be going around South Orange thanks to the new “positive behavior citations” program launched by the community's Board of Trustees along with Police Chief Jim Chelel and Community Relations Officer Sergeant Adrian Acevedo.
Trustee and Chair of the Village’s Public Safety Committee Sheena Collum stated that the program is about increasing “the one-on-one interactions between law enforcement and youth but in a positive way.”
“The way it works is that officers will carry a booklet around with Positive Behavior Citations. On one side they will 'fill out' what they observed the youth doing that was positive. A citation will be handed to the individual and there’s a tear off that can be redeemed for an ice cream at Coldstone Creamery or a slice of pizza at Pirate’s Pizza,” said Collum.
The program will be “village-wide,” and the children have their pick of 5 oz. cup of ice cream or one free plain slice of pizza.
Collum said that the program has already 500 tickets ready to be given out and after the tickets have ran out, they will “assess” the program’s effectiveness and decide whether or not they want to continue with the program, modify it, or try something new.
“The events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and elsewhere had a large and emotional impact on so many throughout the country," Collum said. "At the local level, it made us think long and hard about the importance of a strong relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve. The Board of Trustees recognized and applauded all the existing programs that the police department had in place to build relationships with residents but we wanted to do even more."
Officers will be targeting children exhibiting “positive behavior” on foot rather than using their patrol cars to pull them over.
“This is going to be something that will be a positive time. When the police sees somebody doing something good then they’re going to reward them for good behavior, they are going to reward the kids,” said Police Chief Jim Chelel. “It’s an exciting adventure. It’s something that’s being done across the country. The police officers are good guys. They came on the job to help people and for good reasons. This is a good thing to do.”
Collum thanked The Community Coalition on Race and also Cold Stone Creamery and Pirate’s Pizza for their contributions and efforts toward the program.