JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Starting Wednesday, if you get pulled over for a faulty light on your car while driving in Jacksonville, police will give you something other than a ticket.
If you get pulled over for having something like a burned-out headlight or brake light, or if your turn signal is not working, the officer will give you a voucher.
It’s part of a new partnership between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Jaguars and a new program called the “Lights On” initiative.
The voucher -- paid for by the Jaguars and “Lights On” -- will allow you to go to a local repair shop and get it fixed for free. Jacksonville is the first city in Florida to adopt the new plan.
“It is a public safety issue. It is helping those who are socially impacted, but most of all we look at it as that conversation starter with the healing process between an officer and that motorist,” Lights On Program Director Sherman Patterson said.
He said the idea for the program was sparked in 2017, a year after Philando Castile was killed during a traffic stop in Minnesota.
With this new plan in place, Patterson said, tensions can ease.
“The anxiety goes down on the officer, it goes down on that motorist and that conversation starts with, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this.’ Motorist is feeling really good and the office is feeling really good,” Patterson said.
JSO believes holding off on giving a ticket for something like a burned-out taillight can brew a positive relationship between officers and the community they serve.
“We are always looking for new ways to not only keep our people safe here in Jacksonville but to connect with our people,” said JSO Assistant Chief Paul Restivo. “If we give out 500 of these tickets a year, now we are giving out 500 positive interactions with locals and that’s 500 safer cars on the street, and that’s 500 businesses that are getting customers coming into their shops so it’s a win-win-win.”
The Lights On initiative is teaming up with the Jaguars to foot the bill for the repairs that some who are pulled over might not be able to afford in the first place.
Former NFL tight end Marcus Pollard, now the director of player of development for the Jags, thinks this will lead to positive engagement in communities between residents, law enforcement, and players who want to do more outreach.
“So many of our players live in some of these underserved communities. To have this initiative, to be spread across the country one day is very positive,” Pollard said.
There are nine auto shops so far in the city where you can take your car to get the problem fixed.
On the voucher will be a website listed that will direct you to the nearest participating shop.
If you get one of the vouchers, JSO says you will have 14 days to get your problem fixed at one of those shops.