Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 27, 2013

'Do you know how well you were driving?'

Danville Police reward motorists

Devan Strebing
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — DANVILLE — Danville Police Chief Bill Wright and Patrolman Jerry Cunningham were pulling over drivers Tuesday, the 17th,  and ticketing them for GOOD driving.

Wright started planning this in the summer. He went to four merchants around Danville and asked if they would be willing to participate by rewarding good drivers.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on driving under the influence and distracted driving,” he said. “I thought, ‘let’s do something for good drivers.’ I wanted to do something that will get people’s attention, for them to remember it.”

Four merchants around Danville — Confection Delights, The Royal Theater, Indy Lube and the Mayberry Café — decided to take part by giving certificates such as a free oil change or a gift card.

“The merchants loved it, and we were even able to use the Mayberry car,” Wright said. “Which is even further enhancing pulling them over in the car for good driving and rewarding them.”

Cunningham has been working at the police department for 24 years and he was the only one chosen by the chief to ride in the Mayberry car Tuesday.

“I saw the chief this morning and he said ‘I’ve got something for you to do, come in at 11,’” he said. “We’re pulling people over who are wearing seat belts, doing all of the right things that they are supposed to be doing. One of my instructors taught us on average a law abiding citizen may only have one or two interactions with a police officer in their entire life so it’s important when they have those interactions that you’re respectful, caring and professional because you represent your entire department, and this is one of their interactions.”

Cunningham said there were many different responses, with most drivers wondering what they had done wrong.

“We pull them over and then hand them a gift certificate and say Merry Christmas,” he said. “It’s different from doing the normal traffic stops. It’s nice for a police officer to walk up and reward somebody for something they are doing right. It’s fun to watch their expressions.”

This is the first time the police department has done this and Wright says they will most likely continue to do it sporadically throughout the coming year.

“This has just been a thing before Christmas, but this is the highlight of the season,” he said.