PANTEGO — Some motorists recently caught speeding with expired registrations or with a broken tail light in Pantego weren’t given a ticket. They were given a chance to help schoolteachers.For one month, Pantego police officers who decided to let motorists who committed nonhazardous violations off with a warning also handed out fliers to let drivers know about a school-supplies drive that the department’s Pantego Cops for Kids organization was conducting to serve low-income elementary schools.From mid-September to mid-October, those drivers helped the department collect more than 330 items, including crayons, notebooks, pencils, boxes of tissue, hand sanitizer and folders.Officers presented the supplies to teachers and students at Swift Elementary School in Arlington earlier this month.“Pantego Cops for Kids is a concept to give back to the community,” Police Chief Tom Griffith said. “So much you hear about police departments on the news is negative. The public needs to know we are out there helping and serving, not just writing tickets.”Assistant Police Chief Barry Reeves launched the project this fall after hearing his wife, who is a teacher, talk about how much money teachers spend to provide supplies for students whose parents can’t afford them.“A lot of her kids, they didn’t have any school supplies. I found out how much money comes out of teachers’ pockets,” Reeves said. “It puts undue stress on all the teachers.”During the project, officers passed out nearly 200 fliers to motorists who received warnings. Some of those drivers later stopped by the department with plastic bags brimming with school supplies, Reeves said.Sgt. Ben Moore said the motorists he talked with during the project responded positively to the school-supplies drive.“They were pleased we were doing a program that benefits schools,” Moore said. “It makes you feel good when you get a ‘Thank you’ and a ‘I’ll definitely take care of that for the kids.’”Pantego Cops for Kids is about to launch its third “Tickets for Tots” program. Last November and December, motorists who received warnings for nonhazardous violations in Pantego helped the department collect more than 700 unwrapped toys that were donated to Cook Children’s Medical Center.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock