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SHAVANO PARK — Not every traffic stop in this town means bad news for drivers, thanks to a program launched by Police Chief Ray Lacy that recognizes motorists for “good” driving.

“The chief brought the idea from Dallas, where he previously worked,” police Capt. Mike Davis said. “He’s a big believer in catching people doing things right rather than wrong.”

The new program is popular with patrol officers, the captain added.

“Everyone knows if they speed in Shavano Park, odds are they’ll be ticketed,” said Davis, who joined the department in June as Patrol Division commander. “Now our police officers are looking for drivers who exhibit good driving skills — following the speed limit, signaling lane changes and turns, and one of the most important, being courteous to other drivers.”

Davis said the city takes traffic enforcement seriously, but officers also want to reward folks for courteous behavior.

“Our officers make a lot of traffic contacts – speed or distracted driving or hazardous behavior are all too common, especially when it is raining and slick,” Davis said. “We’re known as a place that will enforce traffic laws.”

Officers are constantly on the lookout for those courteous drivers. And when they spot them, they can pull them over and present them with a Police Courteous Driver Cup. On it is a Shavano Park Police patch and the words “Courteous Driver Award.”

“The program is going really well,” Davis said. “We’ve given away 12 coffee cups so far. Each officer gets one cup per shift. So, it’s not like we’re giving cups out all day long. We want to give them to people who really have gone above and beyond. People who truly represent the best drivers.”

Police Cpl. Roland Quintanilla said the program delivers a positive message.

“When (I) stop someone, and see their expression change when they realize I’m singling them out for doing something good, it is amazing,” Quintanilla said. “I can see how their attitudes change for the better.”

He described giving one woman a courteous driver mug.

“She was coming out of a driveway from her home and she stopped to let traffic pass, rather than racing out into the street,” the corporal said. “She had her turn signal on. She did the right thing and proceeded with caution. She came to a complete stop at the end of her block.”

Quintanilla, who’s been on the force for nearly a decade, said, “I activated my lights and she pulled over. She seemed like something was wrong when I walked up to her car. She told me her dad was in the hospital and on life support and she was having a really bad day. I told her why I stopped her, to congratulate her on her good driving. Giving her the mug put a smile on her face and I’d like to think it made her day a little better.”

Police Sgt. Ricardo Flores, who’s been with the department nine years, said the courteous-motorist initiative creates a better rapport with the public.

“This is a change from what we ordinarily do,” the sergeant said. “It’s something we can do for folks. And I do enjoy it because it is on a personal level. It’s me finding someone to honor on a one-on-one basis.”

Flores talked about giving a mug to a driver he saw who waited patiently for cars to drive down a narrow road.

“She waited until all the cars passed through. I was on a connecting street and about to turn onto the street – I thought her waiting for all the cars to pass was worthy of a courtesy cup,” he said. “I walked over to her car and thanked her for waiting for all the cars to pass. I said, ‘On behalf of the Shavano Park Police Department, I’d like to give you one of our courtesy cups.’ She was thrilled.”

Flores added, “I’ve given away three mugs so far. I don’t give them out easily. I’m looking for someone that is truly being a courteous driver, not just the ordinary stuff drivers have to do.

“A couple of weeks ago I saw a driver who slowed down for people who were crossing the street. Someone dropped something in the street and the woman waited for the pedestrian to pick up the item. She didn’t have to do that. She could have just driven around them. But she was polite and waited. She was very excited to get the mug.”

Davis said the program will continue through January and perhaps beyond.

“The officers enjoy the program much more than writing people citations,” Davis said.

However, police aren’t going easy on bad drivers, either.

“They do have to conduct traffic enforcement, which is so important for achieving our goal of traffic safety,” the captain said.

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