Stanhope Police Offer Ice Cream Coupons To Kids Doing Good Things

By Joe Carlson  New Jersey Herald
Posted: Jul. 17, 2016 12:01 am
STANHOPE -- Borough police officers are on the lookout this summer for local kids who are on their best behavior.

If an officer spots one, the child may just get a coupon for a free ice cream from Martys Ice Cream, a local ice cream truck that makes rounds in the borough.

The initiative is an effort at reaching out to the public, getting to know the children of the borough and allowing them to get to know borough police.

"Most of the time when we arrive at a call or have an interaction with anyone it's not the best," said Sgt. Ryan Hickman, who came up with the idea. "You get a ticket or we're coming to your house and one of your parents is coming with us. We want the kids to know they can trust us. They can call on us when they need help and we'll be there for them."

Police Chief Steven Pittigher echoed Hickman regarding the typical interaction with borough children, but added that his officers enjoy being out in the community and interacting with the borough's citizens.

"Any time we can interact with them on a happier level, that's a good thing," Pittigher said.

The goal, Hickman said, is to find kids who are doing the right things, whether it's looking both ways before using the crosswalk, riding their bike with a helmet or even just staying out of trouble while at the park playing basketball.

"The other day I gave them to a group of kids I saw helping their mom bring the groceries in," Hickman said. "I'll just stop and make sure they have their bike helmets, that they're looking both ways and tell them nice job, and to call us if you ever need us and we'll be there to help you."

Since doing a slow rollout of the coupons last week, the department had given out about 25 as of Thursday afternoon, Hickman said.

Hickman said one boy was so excited he told his mother he was going to faint.

He said teenagers he has given cards to have been taken aback a little since the interaction is different than they are used to.

"Most of the time when we interact with them we're telling them they can't go there, can't do this or they have to go home, so now they're saying this guy is kind of cool," Hickman said.

Hickman even gave coupons to a group of kids playing the new "Pokemon Go" game since they understood to stay out of the borough parks that closed at night and were staying out of the roadway.

Martin Osborn, the owner of Martys Ice Cream, said when he was told about the department's desire, he agreed as "I think we need to realize most of the police are really good people and do more to support them."

Osborne also said it was a way for his truck to get more exposure into the borough, which is an area he had not covered in many years.

The coupons are good for anything on the truck, Hickman said, adding that while the focus of the ice cream is on the kids, it extends to parents as well.

"If the parents know we care about their children, then they'll know we care about them, too and we really do," he said.

Joe Carlson also can be contacted on Twitter: @JoeCarlsonNJH or by phone: 973-383-1292.
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