The City of Vermilion Police Department is pleased to announce that the Vermilion Police Department (VPD) has been selected as the April “Agency of the Month” for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police’s Community Relations and Engagement’s “Sharing Ohio’s Best” program supported by the Law Enforcement Foundation.
“The project, spearheaded by Sgt. Scott Holmes with Romp's Dairy Dock, has been an excellent community relations project,” stated Chief Hartung. “I congratulate all those involved for their efforts.”
CREC a community relations program developed by Sgt. Scott Holmes for the Vermilion PD in 2017.
“I took the idea that I had found from other departments that were giving rewards to children found wearing a bike helmet and modified it,” said Sgt. Holmes. “I created the ‘Vermilion Police Department Did the Right Thing Program’ (DTRT). I am the president of our Local FOP Lodge #125 and the program is co-sponsored by the Lodge.”
“I wanted to give our Officers a method of having positive contacts with the community, and particularly our children,” said Sgt. Holmes. “I developed the VPD DTRT program to give Officers the opportunity to have a positive contact and reward the children for good behavior, and I wanted to give the Officers latitude to decide for themselves what they believed that ‘good behavior’ was. I contacted our local ice cream stand, Romp’s Dairy Dock, and petitioned the owners to co-sponsor the program with the FOP. The owners of the Dairy Dock were immediately supportive of the program. I then created our DTRT ‘Golden Tickets’. The tickets reflect what the program is all about, and on the back of the ticket there is an area for the Officer to indicate the child’s name, what that child did that was considered ‘the right thing’ and the Officers name.”
The “right thing” includes actions such as wearing a seat belt or bike / skate helmet, using a crosswalk, calling 911 during an emergency, and wearing a life vest while on a boat. On the back of the golden ticket is a voucher from the Dairy Dock that is good for $2.00 credit for ice cream, which is enough for a small ice cream for the child.
“Vermilion is one of the largest small boat harbors on Lake Erie and we have the Vermilion River running through the center of town,” stated Sgt. Holmes. “So, boating is a major part of the community. The VPD Marine Patrol Unit has golden tickets on board and are quick to issue the tickets to any children that we come into contact with during our duties who are wearing their life vests. We have had parents thank us for the program, stating that they used to have to argue with their kids to wear the vests on their boat, but now the kids insist on wearing the vest because they know that they may be seen by the VPD Marine Patrol and issued a golden ticket. We are told that the kids on boats now encourage their parents to drive closer to the VPD boat so that they can be seen and ‘stopped’. We have also found that issuing the tickets to children on board boats that have been stopped for a law enforcement action has lessened the negative aspects of that stop for the parents.”
The program has been a huge success. It was initially developed for a 2 year trial, 2017 and 2018. It was so successful, VPD continued the program for 2019 and 2020.
“The Dairy Dock was more than willing to once again provide 200 tickets at $2 vouchers each ($400) total to sustain the program,” stated Sgt. Holmes. “It has an added benefit for the Dairy Dock as it brings the child to get ice cream for the $2 voucher, but also brings other family members with them, and who can go to an ice cream shop and not get an ice cream? We encourage our Officers to be involved in the program and ‘issue’ these tickets, and we encourage them to ask the parents for a quick photo with the kids that we then use on our social media platforms for public relations posts. The costs for the program are nominal, the printing of the 200 golden tickets costs $50 at our local printer.”