Idaho cop cites kids for doing the right thing
Twin Falls Police Officer Morgan Waite's daytime patrols duties have taken a turn
By Ed Glazar
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Twin Falls Police Officer Morgan Waite's daytime patrols duties have taken a turn.
Instead of sticking to main roads making traffic stops, he's also driving through residential neighborhoods policing children. He's hoping to catch them doing something right, and issue them a summons to eat.
"Most of them know they're not in trouble," Waite said, of his stops.
The Twin Falls Police Department has partnered with local Subway restaurants in a summer campaign called, "Playin' Safe." Officers and other police personnel are issuing a different kind of citation — $3 gift cards redeemable at local Subway shops. The summer-long campaign is geared to encourage children to get outside to play and to do it safely.
"The idea is to catch kids doing something right," said Julie Emery, Subway senior area manager.
On Sunday afternoon, Waite left the station with a pocket full of cards. He spent a couple hours driving around looking for children between 5 and 10 years old, doing things like wearing helmets while riding bikes and skateboards and using crosswalks.
Cruising down Polk Street, Waite spotted a group of children playing in a side yard. When he pulled over and got out, they began walking toward the backyard with uncertain looks on their faces.
Waite told them he was glad to see them outside and said a few words about the importance of playing safely, before handing them each a gift card.
The program is meant to reward children for safety, Waite said, but he also enjoys the opportunity to work with the public in a positive light.
"We get tired of taking part in people's misery, in a certain sense," he said.
Most experiences people have with police are negative, Waite said. The outreach program teaches children not to fear police.
"The vast majority of people in Twin Falls are really good people," Waite said. "It's an opportunity to let them know that."
Captain Anthony Barnhart agrees.
"We also hope this will give us some positive interactions within our community," he said.
As a captain, Anthony Barnhart spends most of his working hours at a desk overseeing numerous branches of the department.
"I don't get a lot of opportunity to get out on the street," he said.
So, Barnhart plans to issue his share of citations Tuesday at Twin Falls City Park, during the department's National Night Out.
The campaign began in Salt Lake City, Emery said. Success lead the company to try it in Twin Falls.
Copyright 2014 The Times-News