NEW BEDFORD (CBS) -- The Patriots and the New Bedford Police department are working together to take the tension out of some traffic stops. Officers are now handing out vouchers instead of citations for taillight and headlight violations.
"Lights On!" is what the program is called.
"It's really been a game changer for the men and women in the department. So now to be able to go out and have positive interactions with the public, interactions that were not always positive," said New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira. "The last few years, unfortunately, you'll only hear about the negative interactions. And we know there's been positive ones over the last few years, but we need to have more of them."
WBZ-TV got a chance to see exactly how it works.
"I pulled you over because you have a headlight out," New Bedford Officer Bryant Cappello told one driver. "So what the New England Patriots and our department are doing are giving vouchers up to $250 to get them fixed."
In reflecting on that moment, Cappello said, "Of course, it's a nerve-wracking thing to get pulled over because she initially thought she was in trouble. But her whole demeanor and attitude changed when we were actually helping her out."
The driver can bring the voucher to a local shop and get the problem fixed.
"Usually they would get pulled over and get a ticket or a citation, and they would not come here with a smile on their face. Now they come here actually with a surprise," said Victor Pinhero, the President of Luzo Auto Center in New Bedford.
The program is a win all the way around.
"Any time we can have a positive reaction with the community and the police, it's important," said Cappello. "In any department and any city, that's what every police department should aim to do."
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