San Diego-area police agencies to participate in Light On program to improve community relations

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Officers with the San Diego Police Department and their counterparts in two neighboring cities will soon begin offering vehicle owners help in paying to replace burned-out headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals while avoiding traffic citations that can prove unaffordable for some lower-income motorists.

Instead of issuing so-called “fix-it tickets” for failed car lights, the SDPD and the Chula Vista and National City police departments are preparing to offer drivers vouchers that can be redeemed at participating auto- service providers for up to $250 toward repairing the equipment, officials with the agencies announced during a news conference Tuesday morning.

The service — part of a nationwide program called Lights On!, developed by Minneapolis-based nonprofit MicroGrants — will go into effect locally “in the coming weeks” as a way to improve traffic safety and “mitigate what could become a downward (financial) spiral for lower-income residents,” according to a statement released by the SDPD.

The trio of San Diego-area law enforcement agencies, the first in the state to sign on to the program, have partnered with the San Diego Padres Foundation and Scripps Health to help pay for the initiative, with all the local donations to be matched by MicroGrants, according to organizers.

The co-funding agreement will allow the police agencies to operate the program for three years, give or take, depending on the cumulative cost of repairs and rate of redemption of the vouchers.

“The San Diego Police Department is proud to be partnering with the Chula Vista and National City police departments to be the first to bring the Lights On! program to California,” SDPD Chief David Nisleit said. “Lights On! is truly an innovative solution that will make our roads safer and assist lower- income community members.”

Sgt. Tony Molina, of the Chula Vista Police Department joined KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego to discuss the program in more detail.

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