Sunday, December 03, 2000

Caught speeding? Help the needy

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGDALE — Just a week into the program and the barrels are beginning to fill with canned goods.

        Instead of paying a fine for minor traffic violations, motorists who break the law in this city have the option of paying their fines with five canned goods.

        Food For Fines is in its fourth year here. The program began on Thanksgiving Day and will continue through Christmas Day.

        “It's been very well accepted in the community,” said Police Chief Mike Laage. “In fact, we have people coming in who did not even get a ticket, just to drop off canned goods. Some people give more than five.”

        Chief Laage hasn't counted them all so far this year, but if last year is any indication, he expects his officers to write between 200 and 300 citations during this holiday season, which will amount to more than 1,000 canned goods that will be given to needy families.

        While moving violations — such as speeding — also carry a state cost of $20 that cannot be waived, the fine for the violation itself can be paid with food items. Non- moving violations — such as parking tickets — also can be paid with canned goods.

        The idea was proposed by Police Officer Al Maupin, said the chief.

        “To be honest, at first we thought he was kind of nuts,” said Chief Laage. “But we looked into this and everyone thought it was great.”

        Motorists have embraced the idea, said the chief. For one thing, the canned goods donation is considerably cheaper than fines, which can range from $30 to $100.

        Sharonville police have a similar program. Sharonville Police Lt. Dan Ingram said they have been doing it for about five years, and the program runs from Dec. 15 to Dec. 30. They will collect about 250 canned goods in that period from about 50 violators.

        “It's just good public relations,” said Lt. Ingram. “It's always very positive. And for people who need the extra bucks to go toward Christmas gifts, it's a lot cheaper for them to turn in some canned goods.”

        “The city feels it's a win-win situation for everyone,” said Chief Laage. “We pride ourselves on being a very caring PD.”


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