BRUNSWICK — It’s a good time to get caught by the police.
In same cases, at least.
For the next few weeks, the Brunswick Police Department will give out Hannaford gift cards when they “catch” people doing good deeds.
Officers will reward the gift cards based on their own discretion, and the reward could be for anything as simple as returning lost property to stepping forward as a witness, despite the difficulties that may pose.
The idea came from Masons in United Lodge No. 8 in Brunswick, which donated 200 $10 gift cards to the department Monday.
“The difficulties in some of the larger communities are what sparked us to do this,” James Bridge of the Brunswick Masonic Lodge said after he presented Chief Richard Rizzo with the gift cards.
Bridge lamented that “Society is changing in some ways we don’t care for,” referring to national tension stemming from police shootings of black men that have resulted in the targeted deaths of police officers.
“Even in relatively small towns like Brunswick, things are getting more dangerous for police,” Bridge said.
Fortunately for Brunswick, Rizzo said that in Brunswick, and in Maine in general, police “don’t have the same problems that some of these larger cities have.”
He and Patrol Commander Tom Garrepy reported that the department received an overwhelming amount of support from the public over the summer, which was especially violent, and tensions surrounding the police ran at an all-time high.
Even so, Rizzo said he is grateful for the donation, and happy to implement a program that strengthens the relationship between the department and the community, which is critical to an effective police department. He sees the gift cards as a program that will enhance the good service the department already provides.
“Cops are just people like you, that happen to be a police officer,” he said, and pointed out that 80 percent of a patrol officer’s time is spent helping those who need it, not “arresting people.”
Bridge said the Masons chose to donate Hannaford gift cards because “we wanted to do something that would get people food.” Officers will use their discretion in handing out the cards, but may also choose to give the cards to people in need.
Rizzo hopes the program will catch the attention of prospective applicants to the department, which has openings for six patrol officers.
“If an officer came to the department because of a program like this … that’s the kind of officer we want,” Rizzo said.
James Bridge of the Brunswick Masonic Lodge presented Chief of Police Richard Rizzo with 200 $10 Hannaford gift cards on Monday. In an effort to strenghten relationships between the public and the department, Patrol Officers will award the gift cards to people that “catch doing good things.”