Less than two weeks into March, the Farmington, New Hampshire, police department has already issued 30 tickets -- good for free pizza and French fries.
After enduring a long New England winter, Farmington Police Chief Jay Drury thought the community could use a little morale boost. So, he created a program for police officers to give out gift cards for slices and fries. The cards are issued to people who, despite the harsh winter conditions, are following simple laws like using the crosswalks, keeping their dogs on leashes and using their turn signals, NBC News reports.
Drury came up with the idea after seeing a man navigate the town’s giant snowbanks, just to reach the crosswalk.
“Through the snow, this guy followed every rule and law, and I said to myself, he deserves a medal for this,” Drury told The Huffington Post. “It really weighed on me for a few days, and I thought, there has to be something we can do.”
While stopping for a cup of coffee at Crowley’s Variety & Grill, on Farmington’s Main Street, Drury chatted with the store's employees and proposed the idea of buying a dozen gift cards to issue to law-abiding citizens.
“Originally, Officer Drury was going to pay for the cards himself,” Crowley’s owner Ryan Rogers told HuffPost. ”But we said no, we’d give them out and see how the program goes.”
The program officially kicked off on March 2, and has continued to gain momentum since. Farmington cops make a point to give out the cards safely -- they are not pulling over anyone in a car to give out the gifts, for example. Recipients then go into Crowley’s, where Rogers or another employee asks what they did to earn it, and they receive the snack of their choice.
”People are trying to better themselves,” Rogers said. “This [program] changes their mindset.”
After hearing about the program's success, local credit union Holy Rosary Credit Union donated $250 to Crowley’s to ensure the program runs through the end of March, Drury told HuffPost. The union also offered to support another program in the fall.
In addition to providing an incentive for the town’s residents to follow the law, Drury says the program has strengthened ties both between the small community and its police department.
“This has been such a great way to get my officers out there, meeting people they wouldn’t usually talk to,” he told HuffPost. “It’s been a nice to look for the good in people.”