Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy on Wednesday announced the “Lights On Program” which is aimed at reducing the number of light-related citations among Chattanooga’s low-income communities and its communities of color. Instead of receiving a citation, a CPD officer can instead give the driver a $250 voucher to fix the lights which caused the citation.
“The voucher is good for two weeks, so they don’t fly around in perpetuity since we have to track these things and we have processes in place to study the data,” Chief Roddy said. “If an individual is unable to use the voucher in two weeks and gets pulled over again, the officer has the discretion to give them another voucher. ”
These lights include headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and the lights that illuminate the license plate. Chief Roddy said the police department has looked at data that has shown that while the police department’s driving-related citations are in line with the demographics of the city, light-related citations disproportionately affect those two communities.
“When we write citations that have a socio-economic attachment, we wrote a disparate amount of those citations in communities of color within Chattanooga,” Chief Roddy said. “As a result of that, it helped us engage with an outside partner. That partnership is what we’re here to announce as the Lights On Program.”
The CPD has partnered with MicroGrants, a Minnesota-based nonprofit which gives $1,000 grants to low-income people to help with business development, education, and transportation. CEO Don Samuels helped pioneer the program in Minneapolis, where the Lights On program first originated.
“This was just the perfect solution at the perfect time, when we knew that that community and police relationships need healing more than ever before,” Mr. Samuels said. “We’re thrilled to bring that program here. Our service providers in Minneapolis have claimed up to 14 percent increase in their business just from those people coming back to the same provider for their regular service.”
Mr. Samuel said that there are six local businesses who will accept these vouchers. These are Christian Brothers Automotive in Hixson, Downtown Automotive on Market Street, Denny’s Auto Center, Scenic City Auto Repair, Express Tire and Service on Highway 58, and Parkers’ Automotive and Fuel.
If the repair cost is greater than $250, then the individual will be responsible for paying for any amount over the $250. And Chief Roddy said that while the driver will not be cited for light-related matters, they could still receive a citation if they were also driving unsafely.
“You could have an individual pulled over for a speeding ticket who also has a light violation,” Chief Roddy said. “They may still receive the citation for the speeding, but they will leave with a voucher to get the light fixed too, so that’s not a future citation.”