Minnesota Police Chief Magazine Featured Lights On!

The fall 2018 issue of the Minnesota Police Chief magazine featured Lights On! What follows are excerpts from the three-page article.

“It happens dozens of times a day, all over the state. Officers pull over a driver for having a taillight out. Maybe it’s a headlight. While it might not seem like a big deal to police, it’s a different story for the driver that probably doesn’t have a happy ending. Sometimes a new bulb can cost $40. Sometimes the cost to rewire a light could approach $300.

“‘You might not be able to fix that light. Or, what do you have to sacrifice to fix that light? Poor people are making decisions like that every day,’ says Don Samuels, who founded the Lights On! program after the Philando Castile incident. ‘Do I pay the rent or do I buy food? This kind of expense—unexpected, one that’s not been budgeted for—it could be critical for someone.’ . . . 

“In 2017, MicroGrants kicked off Lights On! where it all began, in Columbia Heights. 16 agencies, including St. Paul, Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park were represented. Between April and December of 2017, Twin Cities cops handed out more than 400 vouchers. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has just requested 500 more vouchers for its patrol officers. . . 

“‘The beauty of this program is everyone, from police officers to drivers to community leaders, can get behind this effort in your community,’ said Lights On! Program Director Sherman Patterson. ‘We can all relate to being pulled over. Each voucher has the potential to turn a lose-lose situation—the traffic stop—into a win-win where we’re helping low income drivers and changing how officers are viewed.”

We are very grateful for the magazine’s story about Lights On! and hope that this coverage will help us expand into Greater Minnesota, while increasing local usage of the Lights On! program.