Cranford cops look to encourage good behavior

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CRANFORD, NJ — The Police Department is looking to increase bicycle safety and inspire good behavior by giving out “positive summons” to the local youth this summer through two safety initiatives. The summons will be redeemable for a free slice of pizza or a Slurpee.

With the department’s bicycle safety reward campaign, children under the age of 17 who are caught doing the right thing will be given a summons by members of the Traffic or Juvenile Detective divisions. This includes wearing a helmet while participating in a wheeled sport, like bicycling, skateboarding, scootering and rollerblading.

“This safety initiative uses positive reinforcement and education as a way to emphasize the importance of helmet safety and brain injury prevention,” Cranford police Capt. Guy Patterson said in an email on June 26 to LocalSource.

The department has been participating in a variation of this initiative for almost 10 years, according to Lt. Edward Davenport. He said it was started to not only raise awareness for helmet safety but to “allow officers to have a positive encounter with the youth.”

Children also may be rewarded for exercising other bike safety practices, according to Davenport, and this will be left up to the discretion of each officer.

Brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults. A properly worn helmet is the single most effective safety device available to reduce the chance of brain injury and death by as much as 85 percent, Davenport said.
The state’s helmet law requires children under 17 years old wear a helmet while biking, skateboarding and roller skating.

Initially, the department teamed up with the Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey to promote helmet safety.

This year’s summons will be good for a free slice of pizza from Vinny’s Pizza & Pasta on Eastman Street, which is sponsoring this year’s initiative this year; the summons can be redeemed through Aug. 31.

Davenport said the department tries to make the reward child-friendly each year, and that, “Pizza and ice cream seem to be the favorites among the kids.”

“The goal of our program is to increase helmet use by those under the age of 17, and encourage children throughout Cranford to get ‘caught’ wearing a helmet through this reward-based program,” police Chief Ryan Greco said in a recent release from the department.

The summons also enters the rider into a raffle for a gift card that was donated by Cranford PBA union Local No. 52. More details on the raffle drawing will be available after the safety initiative is complete, but Davenport said the drawing will happen before the start of the new school year.

The department also announced “Operation Chill,” a second safety initiative for the summer, for which youth will be rewarded for “positive behavior” with a Slurpee from 7-Eleven. Children who are seen participating in community activities or helping their parents are just a few of the ways how children can score a “ticket” from the department, Davenport said. Slurpee vouchers can be redeemed at the 7-Eleven in Cranford at 299 South Ave. East, and are valid until Dec. 31.

Davenport said that these initiatives are designed to help build positive relationships between the community and the department.

“These tie-ins with our other community policing programs that are aimed at building relationships with our kids and reinforcing positive behavior among our youth,” he said.

Other initiatives include the baseball trading card program, the Youth Academy and the creation of police substations in three Cranford schools.