Those blue lights could land you in jail. Or, they could land you at Wendy's with a free Frosty.
Local law enforcement agents as well as those across the state are handing out "I Got Caught" tickets when they see a child doing something safe.
The ticket can be issued for a number of different "good crimes" an officer catches any child from ages 2 to 13 "committing." These actions range from wearing a safety helmet while on a bicycle, looking both ways when crossing the street and using a hand signal when bike riding. The Department of Natural Resources will also issue tickets for kids wearing a life jacket on the water.
"I look at it as you're rewarding positive or good behavior on the part of our young people," said Assistant Fort Dodge Police Chief Kevin Doty. "It gives the officers an opportunity to make a positive contact with a young person."
The program is part of the Iowa Health System targeted to make kids aware of their safety. Specifically, the goal of the ThinkFirst Iowa program is to help prevent brain and spinal cord injuries, said Angela Holman, ThinkFirst Iowa Program Coordinator for Iowa Health Systems.
While wearing helmets is not a law in Iowa, each year, Holman said there are more than 800 bicycle fatalities in the U.S. and another 55,000 are injured.
Another aspect of the ThinkFirst Iowa program is that they give helmets out to children in communities throughout Iowa. Earlier this summer, the Fort Dodge Wendy's gave away 50 helmets. Holman said she recently ordered 25 helmets for the Webster County Sheriff's Department to distribute.
Since the beginning of the year, ThinkFirst has distributed about 5,600 helmets statewide.
Webster County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Jim O'Brien said the helmets will be given out based on the discretion of the deputy and hopefully in conjunction with an "I Got Caught" ticket to another child who is wearing a helmet.
"It's a wonderful way of educating the children on safety," O'Brien said. "Not only on bicycle safety, but so many other areas of safety that get the children thinking and making wise decisions in the future."
Through the ticketing program, kids will interact with officers on good terms, which organizers say is just an added bonus.
"We've gotten some really good feedback," Holman said. "A lot of the officers say the kids and parents get to see a different a different side to a police officer - the side that is concerned about personal safety."
By partnering with Wendy's, it makes the incentive to practice personal safety a little sweeter.
"(The program) creates an awareness of behavior and safety. It gives kids the opportunity to just think safety a little more," said Fort Dodge Wendy's owner Mark Miller. "It's an expense that if it saves just one child, obviously it's more than worth it."
Contact Angela Burch at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org