November 24, 2020

Police give out vouchers for new headlights, not tickets

Instead of giving people tickets for broken lights on their vehicles, a Mississippi police department is handing out vouchers for repairs.

The Oxford Police Department is working with four local automotive repair shops on the program.

The vouchers are valid for 30 days after they are issued and must be signed by an officer. They allow for replacement of head lights, brake lights, tail lights, turn signals and license plate lights at a $25 limit.

Police Chief Joey East said the idea for the vouchers originally started when OPD was contacted by Southland Body Shop a few months ago, which saw another police department offering vouchers and wanted to try the same.

Southland Body Shop’s Ronnie Harwell said he saw other smaller towns do it on the news, and thought about how it would work in Oxford.

“Why not?” Harwell said. “Why would you not help your city?”

From there, East said Harwell contacted OPD and the idea came to life.

“He took the torch and ran,” East said. “We teamed up with him.”

After Southland Body Shop got involved, Harwell reached out and got Neal Hodge Automotive, Deal’s Auto Repair and Oxford Auto Care involved as well.

Harwell said he kept the business list to just four to see how the program would work, but he said it’s worked so well that more auto and body shops are also expected to join in the initiative later.

East said the initiative was “just a good program for the community,” as it was a way for the surrounding body shops to offer residents a break. Harwell said it was a no brainer to help out the community, as a burnt out car light isn’t something most residents notice as they get into their cars and drive away.

“We just don’t do it,” Harwell said of checking a car’s lights. “We just get in it and go.”

These vouchers are valid for 30 days after the issue date, and have to be signed by an officer in order to be accepted. They allow for replacement of head lights, brake lights, tail lights, turn signals and license plate lights at a $25 limit.

Harwell said he understands how the program might look like free advertising on paper, however the initiative puts Southland Body Shop’s name out as a shop that does it for more than just name recognition.

“We’re out here to help,” he said.