St. George Police Sargent Sam Despain said the initiative Playin’ Safe is part of a partnership that the St. George Police Department has created with Subway to promote safety and offer resident youth positive reinforcement for good behavior.
He said this was not the first time SGPD has coordinated efforts with the well-known sandwich moguls. The program has been wildly successful in the past, He said, and they hope to continue it in the future.
The way Playin’ Safe works is simple Despain said. If an officer noticed a child who is wearing the proper safety attire when skateboarding, or bicycling, he said they stop and offer the child a gift card to Subway – the card is loaded with enough points to get one free six-inch sub of their choice.
He said there are many ways to earn a gift card, and that he anticipates the cards to disappear quickly, because there are so many awesome kids out there who care and pay attention to safety rules.
“It could be that an officer makes a traffic stop and notices all of the children in the car are wearing their seat belts so he gives them each a card,” he said. “We have about 300 cards that are supposed to last until schools starts, but I doubt they’ll make it that long.”
Despain said the idea behind the campaign is three fold.
First, he said that many children fear law enforcement agents for a multitude of reasons, and SGPD understands that if a child sees law enforcement with fear in their eyes, they may be less likely to call them for help in a time of need. It is their hope that with positive interaction police officers can fulfill their role as officers of the peace and be a little less intimidating to youth.
Second, Despain said safety rules are important to keeping children alive, or out of harm’s way. He said the hope is that by rewarding safe behavior, other children will take notice, and begin to practice safety as well.
Finally, he said the positive reinforcement is a great tool for teaching children how to make better safety choices in the future.
“It feels great to have this positive interaction,” he said. “Most people see us as the ones who are always looking for people to mess up so we can catch them doing something wrong, but that’s not the case.
We frequently notice when people are doing the right thing, and this program gives us a chance to acknowledge it – it feels good to make people smile once in a while,” he added.
The Playin’ Safe program began on Wednesday and will continue until all of the cards have been given away to law-abiding youth in the area.