In the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota, police departments have embarked on an effort to decrease unnecessary arrests by issuing repair vouchers—rather than traffic tickets—to motorists during traffic stops for equipment violations such as broken headlights or taillights.Dan Simmons, “Two Years After Philando Castile’s Death, Programs Aim to Transform Relations Between Police, Residents,” Washington Post, July 7, 2018.
The vouchers, which can be redeemed at nearby auto shops, are part of the Lights On! program, through which police work to avoid a vicious cycle of mounting fines when people who cannot afford to repair their vehicles get ticketed repeatedly—making them less able to afford even minor repairs.Simmons, “Two Years After Philando Castile’s Death,” 2018. The program has been replicated in Iowa City, Iowa, and other jurisdictions in the Midwest hope to adopt the idea.Simmons, “Two Years After Philando Castile’s Death,” 2018. The idea for Lights On!, which was developed by nonprofit organization MicroGrants, stemmed from the 2016 death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer after a traffic stop reportedly involving a broken taillight.For the “Lights On” program, see “Lights On! A Program of Microgrants.” For more on Castile’s death, see Brandon Stahl, “Officer's Lawyer: Castile Pulled Over Because He Matched Robbery Suspect,” StarTribune, July 11, 2016; and Andy Mannix, “Police Audio: Officer Stopped Philando Castile On Robbery Suspicion,” StarTribune, July 12, 2016. The case garnered national attention when Castile’s girlfriend streamed live footage of his death on Facebook.Stahl, “Officer’s Lawyer,” 2016; and Mannix, “Police Audio,” 2016.