If you are biking on the road in Richmond – with your helmet on – or waiting patiently at a crosswalk, you may get ticketed by the police.
But don’t worry, the ticket doesn’t come with a fine or warning, but instead a small gift or a free treat, such as a coupon of a 7-Eleven Slurpee or a McDonald’s coffee.
This is Richmond RCMP’s youth positive ticketing program, a program that was initiated in Richmond in 2002 and adopted widely across the police system in North America – especially in the summer.
“It’s an ongoing program, but usually it gets a little bit busier during this time of year, because we have kids out and about in the neighbourhood,” said Const. Tammy-Lyn Walker, school liaison officer at Richmond RCMP.
A ticket will be issued to youths who are “caught” behaving conscientiously, whether they are wearing a helmet on a bike or scooter, crossing the street safely, wearing reflective clothing or helping someone.
The officer on duty will tick the “good behaviour category” on the ticket and the “ticket amount” is a free treat.
“There are enough other things out there happening, we want to shock people with the fact that we are not just here catching people speeding, reminding them to make the right choices, but we are also out there pressing them by emphasizing positive behaviour,” said Walker.
“Sometimes, it’s just a matter of telling somebody, ‘way to go.’ Often, to be honest, as kids, they don’t get a lot of ‘good job’ or ‘well done.’
“Something as simple as a police officer telling them they made a difference, that’s the best thing.”
Officers also hope that, through the positive ticketing program, they can break down barriers between police and youth, who will then not hesitate to turn to the police for help.
“Some people come from different countries, maybe their relation with the police in the past hasn’t been the greatest, said Walker.
“We want them to know that the police here, especially here in the Richmond detachment, are definitely people who want to be approached.”
Walker said she finds it especially rewarding when she sees some kids carrying the positive tickets in their wallet everywhere they go.
“They say, ‘Cont. Walker, I still have my positive ticket. I don’t want to get rid of it because it reminds me of the conversation you and I had, and it reminds me of something positive’,” said Walker.
The positive ticketing not only inspires the kids who receive them, but also police officers who usually face tough situations, according to Walker.
“Some of the situations we go to are really sad. Sometimes when we deal with something so positive like this, it’s also positive for the officers,” said Walker.
She added that the Richmond RCMP is looking to expand the program to adults.