Suffolk police will be able to hand out vouchers for repairs instead of issuing tickets for minor equipment violations, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison announced Thursday.
“For some of our residents, a minor traffic ticket can turn into so much more, causing an unnecessary financial burden, and even worse, trouble with the legal system,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Through the Lights On! Program, not only are we providing vouchers to drivers to fix their broken head or tail lights, we are working to build goodwill and trust between the SCPD and the communities they serve.”
Bellone called on local autobody shops to participate in the program, which would provide drivers with vouchers for broken head and tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals instead of issuing a ticket.
“Through this program, instead of punishing drivers for broken lights, we can extend a helping hand to someone in need and help them fix the mechanical issue that they are experiencing and mitigate what often becomes a negative police encounter and downward spiral for community members in need. I encourage all of our local body shops here in Suffolk County to visit suffolkpd.org to sign up to participate in this great program,” Harrison said.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the Lights On webpage showed just two Suffolk shops within 50 miles of Huntington participating so far in the brand-new program.
Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly, D-Huntington Station, said, “By offering fixes instead of fines when addressing certain motor vehicle violations, the Lights On! initiative gives our police officers another tool in their commitment to fostering community trust. This program will directly address our ‘Safety First Campaign’ recommendation of finding alternative ways for our officers on the streets to address and respond to minor violations in the communities they know and serve.”
Suffolk County said it joins dozens of police departments already partnering with Lights On! Using grant funding and a donation from local philanthropist Steve Castleton, Lights On! will match the county’s initial investment of $35,000, for a total of $70,000.
Suffolk County joins dozens of police departments already partnering with Lights On! to make our roads and communities safer. Using grant funding and a donation from local philanthropist Steve Castleton, Lights On! will match the county’s initial investment of $35,000, for a total of $70,000.
Drivers redeem the vouchers at participating auto body shops that are NYS DMV certified and vetted by Lights On. The driver’s bulb issue is fixed for free, up to $250 and Lights On! reimburses the auto shop for their costs. Drivers will have 14 days to use the voucher and remedy the defective equipment, and the SCPD will input voucher information in a Traffic Stop data system to ensure those who receive a voucher don’t get repeatedly stopped during the grace period.
The Lights On! Program is the latest initiative to be implemented as part of the County’s historic Police Reform and Reinvention plan.