Calgary police are starting to hand out tickets to children now. But these are the kind of tickets you want — a reward for positive behaviour.
“Students and youth are under a lot of pressure right now, especially with the pandemic taking place and what’s going on in our schools,” Staff Sgt. Ralph Veckenstedt told The Homestretch.
Veckenstedt is in charge of youth education with CPS. He said the positive ticketing program is a joint venture with Circle K convenience stores, and the tickets are good for treats.
Positive behaviours can range from wearing a bike helmet and looking both ways, to washing your hands properly, Veckenstedt said.
“How they wash their hands, how they address the pandemic, because officers will be approaching, under our guidelines, wearing masks in Calgary and following the coded protocols. So that can be scary in itself for young students when you’re dealing with the police,” he said.
Engage with youth
“A lot of times it’s not on the best terms. And what we’re trying to do is … to actually engage with youth in the community and say, listen, police are safe. These are people that you can approach in the community. And it’s not always on that negative point.”
When officers see kids doing something good out in the community, they can hand out one of the tasty rewards.
Veckenstedt said most of the tickets will be handed out within school and youth programming settings. Kids will be rewarded for practicing good citizenship and safety, like making a habit of locking up bikes and garages.
Each ticket will have safety tips printed on the back as well as being a voucher for Circle K.
“So here’s an opportunity where we see you doing something great that impacts the community. And it’s very positive to say, you know what, here’s the reward here to treat going to the Circle K and get yourself a hot chocolate or a freezer or slushie,” Veckenstedt said. “And actually connect on a different level, and not always how the police often connect with kids.”
The positive ticketing program started Jan. 11, to coincide with the return to in-person schooling. The program does not have a planned end date.
“In my opinion, if one of my officers or myself can reach out to one of these kids and just make their day that much better — because you don’t know what they’re going through and they’re scared in the pandemic — just to give them something positive, that’s good enough for me,” Veckenstedt said.
For more information go to Calgary Police Service.
With files from The Homestretch.