Lebanon Police Officer Karin Lynn hooked a quick left and undid her seatbelt in preparation to exit her vehicle. With determined efficiency, she arced into a side street to head off a cyclist she’d seen just seconds before.
There he was, right where she knew he would be. Exiting her vehicle, she held up her hand to stop him. The cyclist, Lebanon resident Jerry Pritchard, slowed to a stop, a surprised look on his face.
Lynn told him why she’d stopped him and then cited him. For obeying a stop sign.
That’s right. The DH rode along Wednesday with Lynn to document the second day of the department’s new program to issue citations to citizens committing good deeds.
The program, the brainchild of Lebanon dentist Adam Kirkpatrick, is designed to let officers reward people for good civic behavior, which includes using crosswalks, driving properly, using turn signals, or yielding at sidewalks when on foot.
The tickets are actually vouchers, worth $10 toward any purchase at Lebanon's Big Town Hero, 1847 Bar and Grill, or The Growler Cafe. Kirkpatrick donated $500 to launch the program, generating 50 such citations for the first round.
On Tuesday, the first day of the program, officers handed out two of the tickets: one to a woman whose son was wearing his bike helmet (while of course also on his bicycle) and another to a driver who had her child in a proper car seat.
In fact, the program allows officers to issue good deed tickets even during routine traffic stops; if, for example, a driver is pulled over for a broken tail light but is also wearing a seatbelt, the officer might elect to issue a good deed ticket. Some, however, according to Community Policing officer Dala Johnson, have expressed through social media a mistaken idea that the program is a ploy to let the cops catch more people driving while intoxicated. This, says, Johnson, is a misguided conclusion.
“It’s just something to promote some positive generosity in our town,” she said.
After Lynn cited Pritchard for his proper cycling, the two chatted a little about the holiday, and Pritchard was excited to have received his ticket.
“It seems like it sort of made his day,” Lynn said later. She said the program is a nice addition to her daily duties.
“Normally when people end up talking to police, it’s not because they’re having a good day,” she said.
Of course, officers are not normally so action-packed about their good deed ticketing as Lynn was with Pritchard, but she wanted to make sure to catch him.
Normally, the tickets are handed out for casual observations of good deeds. Later, Lynn spotted another candidate: a person walking her two dogs correctly on leashes. Lynn pulled over to cite her, but it turned out to be Lebanon Police Dispatcher Amy Torgerson. Because the citations are reserved for citizens, Torgerson was not cited. The department can’t play favorites, you know.