To maintain its reputation for issuing lots of tickets, the Windermere Police Department is moving from cracking down on motorists to a new demographic its officers intend to profile: child bicyclists.
Students bicycling to nearby schools will receive increased numbers of citations for offenses such as wearing a helmet, walking their bikes across a street at a crosswalk, using hand signals and obeying traffic signals.
“We added a box that says other, because I teach the Magic Program, which is like DARE,” said Deputy Chief Jennifer Treadwell, “so if they’re behaving in class or doing something exceptional in the community, I can issue them a ticket and check the ‘other’ box,”
To pay their debts to society for these behaviors, students will have the option to consume a free ice cream or frozen yogurt cone at Treat House Cafe in Dr. Phillips. The need to reform such juveniles was particularly evident at the intersection of Willow Brick and Windermere roads.
“We’re going to have a school crossing guard here,” said Windermere Police Chief David Ogden. “We tried to get it as a school zone. I’m irritated with the county. They came to assess it two or three weeks ago in the morning, when it was raining, and said there’s not enough traffic or kids. It was pouring all week long—none of the kids are (biking) to school; I get that.
“At a heavy day, we’ll have about a dozen through here, but the speed limit isn’t reduced. It’s 30 (mph), and we had to stop cars and stop kids—they just weren’t stopping (here). That’s when we really educated them on this.”
Trish Eakin, of Treat House Cafe, where students can redeem their tickets, started the program with Sgt. Jayson Bonk after she noticed a similar program Brimfield Police Department had implemented in the Cleveland area.
“I just saw it and thought it was a great idea, and I thought it was perfect for this community,” Eakin said. “I never walked my bike across (streets). That’s great that they are.”
Windermere Police and local residents hope this form of punishment will teach young criminals caught in these acts how to be more responsible members of society.
“Now we know to get off our bikes (at a crosswalk) and always wear our helmets,” Treadwell said to Danielle Fleming and Lily Rosa, after they received tickets for wearing helmets and crossing safely.