Getting pulled over by police can be nerve-racking, sometimes leading to a dreaded ticket or citation. But some drivers in New Bedford are in for a surprise.
New Bedford police will soon begin handing out free repair vouchers instead of tickets for broken lights and broken turn signals.
It's the first department in New England to partner with "Lights On!" and the program is meant to mend the relationship between the public and police.
"This program will be able to afford our officers the ability to transform typically negative interactions into positive ones," said Police Chief Paul Oliveira. "This is a great way for our officers to build trust with the community and engage them in positive interaction. At times, routine traffic stops have the potential to become adversarial, and we'd like to lessen the possibility of that."
Drivers can redeem the voucher at the following auto centers, worth up to $250:
The program is backed by a $3,500 donation from the New England Patriots and New England Revolution and matched by the "Lights On!" program.
Oliveira said he wrote to Robert Kraft after watching a commercial about the program during Monday Night Football. He heard back right away.
"I think within 48 hours, we had a response -- they were like, whatever you need," he said.
"I love this. It shows empathy and someone's thinking really big," Kraft said during a press conference in Gillette Stadium. "This is something innovative that helps build greater trust between the police and average citizens."
More than 100 police departments across the country, mostly in Minnesota, participate in the program.
There is no end date for it in New Bedford. Vouchers will be arriving in the coming weeks.
"This program will complement our community policing philosophy that has built trust in our neighborhoods and has dramatically lowered crime across the city" said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. "I am grateful to the NFL, the Patriots, and the Kraft family for their thoughtful support."