The Chapel Hill Police Department and UNC’s Department of Public Safety walked back their proposed "good ticket" initiative after critics made it clear that they do not want to be stopped for obeying the law.
According to a statement posted to the Chapel Hill town website last week, the initiative was to be part of an effort to increase pedestrian safety:
As part of our ongoing support of a community friendly to people who bike and walk, the Town of Chapel Hill will continue to promote safety at crosswalks. People may receive helpful information, warnings, and in some cases, tickets for violations… Officers are handing out ‘Good Tickets’ to reward people walking and biking who are following the rules of the road.
Mayoral aide Jeff DeLuca told The Huffington Post that the plan was for police officers to "ticket" law abiders by handing out coupons and safety brochures to people who, say, crossed the street at a crosswalk or ride their bikes in the bike lane.
Chapel Hill Police Lt. Celisa Lehew told UNC's The Daily Tar Heel that, "It's a good opportunity to thanks those for following the law." According to the Tar Heel, this would have been a nice thing:
The initiative will not only promote positive interaction with police officers, but also create opportunities for local stores and restaurants as well. Franklin Street’s Noodles and Company and Franklin Street Yoga have both agreed to give coupons.
The idea for the program came from a similar one in Greenville, reports the Tar Heel. That effort began in August.
But Chapel Hill residents weren't convinced. "I do NOT need to be stopped and thanked for NOT breaking the law. All the 'thanks' I need or want is to be LEFT ALONE by the police," a commenter wrote on the Tar Heel story. Another pointed out this could be a way to mask targeting, writing "'Pulling you over for good behavior', umm NO. More like 'Pulling you over because you looked suspicious but I didn't have probable cause'."
Facebook comments posted to the Tar Heel page were similarly skeptical. And, it seems, the pushback was robust. Wednesday, the Tar Heel reported, "the Chapel Hill Police Department has decided to postpone the initiative and re-evaluate," based on "feedback from the community."
The Chapel Hill Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.