Lights On

In a typical year, Seaside PD gives out about 50 tickets for vehicle lights. (Additional related stops might end in arrests on other charges.) They will start with 100 vouchers worth up to $250.

On July 6, 2016, Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled over 32-year-old Philando Castile for a broken taillight near Minneapolis. The officer asked Castile for his license and registration; as he reached, Yanez shot and killed Castile.

After that tragic, fatal confrontation, the board of a Minneapolis nonprofit called MicroGrants hatched an idea: What if they teamed up with police officers to pay for simple vehicle repairs, potentially minimizing deadly encounters on the streets? The Lights On! initiative launched and has since provided thousands of vouchers to partnering law enforcement agencies; those officers then distribute the vouchers, and people can turn them in at participating auto shops for fixes to lights – the auto shop then bills Lights On! directly.

The next agency to join in, and the first in Northern California, is the Seaside Police Department, which will launch its Lights On! program May 19, paid for with $4,600 in state grant funds. Police Chief Nick Borges has partnered with five auto shops and counting that will accept the vouchers; he’s ordered 100 to start. Unlike a “fix-it ticket” that requires police officer sign-off, these vouchers allow recipients to go directly to a shop.

First on the priority list will be Seaside residents. “Although this really helps people of low income, it helps all people remain safe,” Borges says. “If your lighting equipment is working, you are going to be a safer vehicle on the roadway.”

Borges will also pitch the idea to all Monterey County law enforcement chiefs at a meeting in late May. “It would be a great initiative if we went together as a county,” he says.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

(1) comment

Alan Romero

Bravo to the Seaside Police Department. Great way to protect and serve the community!!!!

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