BLUE GRASS, Iowa (KWQC) — A new program in one of our communities is working to bring police and residents together. Officers say it is all about building trust.
We caught up with Sgt. Garrett Jahns, issuing a citation to a Blue Grass resident. “You have been caught by the Blue Grass Police department while committing a safe act of having your dog on a leash.” It’s not your typical ticket. And most residents reacted with relief after receiving one from Jahns.
“I wasn’t sure,” Terri Lorenz tells us. “I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know if I did anything wrong. I even picked up my poo and everything.” She was also stopped for putting her dogs on leashes during an afternoon walk. Jahns told her, “I wanted to go ahead and reward that good behavior.”
He did it with a “Good Behavior Citation”. It’s something police came up with to reward residents who see something and say something, calling 9-1-1 anytime they need an officer.
Sgt. Jahns tells us, “This year, we are at 839 calls for service, where last year we were at 590 calls for service.” He says that’s up 42 percent from last year, and 91 percent from the year before. Not only accident, theft or domestic violence calls, but also those filed under public service like people locked out of their cars or a welfare check at someone’s home.
“For the most part, we deal with about 10 percent of the population 90 percent of the time,” Jahns says. But his goal is to flip those numbers. And city leaders are on board. Mayor Tim Brandenburg says, “Every good act sometimes deserves a little warm, fuzzy pat on the back.”
We saw Jahns give out one of those pats to Jacque Smith. She was watching her kids at the park, saying, “This is kind of nice.” Right after, we saw Jahns hit the basketball court with those kids, making a connection, and potentially making the community stronger.
“With everything that’s been going on in Baltimore and Ferguson,” Lorenz says, “there’s not always a good rapport with police officers. Ours are great.” Jahns says he hopes this program helps convince everyone in the city. “I wish more people could see that we’re people too. You know, I wish that immensely. Behind the badge is a heart. And I like to show the heart a lot more than I like to show the badge.”
The Good Behavior Citation Program runs through September 1st, and a handful of area businesses are taking part. Police are able to give out citations to Casey’s, The Corner Grill, the new Blue Grass Movie Theater and Modern Woodmen Park.