Pocatello Police looking to reward kids for good behaviors

By Sarah Glenn
For the Journal

POCATELLO –– Pocatello Police officers are keeping a close eye on kids this summer, not only watching out for the bad but looking to reward the good.

Officers and detectives have on hand a stack of $3 Subway gift cards that they will be handing out to kids who they observe playing safe.

“For example, it could be a child wearing a helmet while riding their bike or someone wearing pads and a helmet while on a skateboard,” Lt. Ian Nelson of the Pocatello Police Department said. “It could also be a kid who looks both ways before crossing the street, or grabs a parent’s hand and looks both ways before crossing.”

Even taking turns on the playground is behavior that’s eligible for reward, Nelson said. The gift card can be applied to any order, however the basic 4-inch children’s sandwich at Subway is about $3.

This will be the second summer the Pocatello Police Department has participated in the program, which began in Utah.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 48 percent of children ages 5-14 wear bicycle helmets when riding. Further, older children were less likely to wear helmets than younger children. In 2010 in the United States, more than 800 bicyclists were killed and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency room care. Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents. Annually, 26,000 of these bicycle-related injuries to children and adolescents are traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency rooms.

When it comes to crossing the street, unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth-leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5-19. Teenagers are now at greatest risk. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all pedestrian deaths.

While Nelson says that local children generally play safely, it always good to have a reminder. 

“In our area most kids do a pretty good job of playing safe,” Nelson said. “But the more the word spreads around the more kids will think about safety and maybe think, ‘Hey, I might get rewarded for this.’”

The program is sponsored by a Utah group of Subway Restaurant franchises and began in the greater Salt Lake area. Today, communities across Utah and Idaho have made the gift cards a summer tradition, making police officers more accessible and creating positive impressions with area youth.

Locally, Nelson believes that children have a fairly good impression of the police.

“We are in a partnership with the kids,” Nelson said. “Through our efforts and partnering with Subway it shows them that we are their partners.”

Nelson said that the department has a “whole bunch” of the gift cards and won’t be running out any time soon.

“We just want to encourage kids to have safe playing habits,” Nelson said. “You never know who might see that.”

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