Doughnuts for do-gooders

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CLINTON — The Kirkland Police Department in cooperation with the Clinton Dunkin’ Donuts, 35 Utica St., is giving away Good Citizen Awards, which translates to free doughnut coupons for people in the village who demonstrate kind, considerate and positive community behavior.

While most people would agree police are known for their passion for doughnuts, in this instance the Kirkland Police Department are using them to effect change, and not to their waistlines.

Kirkland Police Chief Daniel English explained it’s a way to motivate the kids to do the right thing.

“Among other things, we’re looking for a way to encourage kids to wear their bike helmets when out riding,” English said. “I mean their parents are buying the helmets, but the kids are ditching them in the first bush they come to and riding without helmets.”

English continued to explain other ways people can earn free doughnuts and it’s not just for the kids.

“Each officer is going to be given a bunch of coupons,” English said. “When they witness the kids using the crosswalks...properly, not running across the streets, using their helmets (on bicycles), any rollerblade or skateboarders with their protective gear on we’ll give them a coupon. Also, if we see a father and mother and they’re riding a bicycle with a helmet on we’ll give them a coupon. It’s really just about reinforcing good, responsible behavior.”

Kirkland Police Officer Shawn Occhipinti said you never know what you could get a coupon for.

“I was out patrolling earlier today and I saw a young man waiting for the bus,” Occipinti said. “He was holding his mom’s hand and I stopped to talk to them only to find out the kid was on his way to summer school...by his choice. So I thought that was a really cool thing so I handed him a coupon and said here’s a doughnut on us for doing the right thing.”

Occhipinti also said this program is a way to establish positive relationships between the public and the police department.

“I think it’s going to be really good,” Occhipinti said. “Already it’s making the kids more comfortable with the police and the level of friendship with the kids has been just amazing. The kids will see the uniform the officer is wearing and they say ‘look at all the cool stuff he’s wearing’ next thing you know they have a host of questions about the uniform and it opens a relaxed relationship and a really good rapport.”

Trudy Pellerito, multi-unit manager for the Clinton Dunkin’ Donuts said she just wants to be part of the community and do what’s right for her customers and their families.

“We are interested in partnering with anyone who has the village and town’s best interest at heart,” Pellerito said.

English said it’s all about staying positive.

“We hate to scold kids and write up tickets to people who don’t follow the laws,” English said. “We hope this will be a way to encourage people to just do the right thing.”

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