Ferris Police Chief Eddie Salazar was looking for another way to connect his officers with the public when a positive thought to simply pay "it" forward surfaced — "Smile, have a nice day."
Armed with policing essentials and a stack of business-card sized messages, Ferris Police Officers are offering up words of encouragement to the public each day as they patrol the streets.
"Pay it forward: Smile, have a nice day,” the cards read.
“It is part of our act of kindness program that we are doing. I got up Sunday morning and was reading my Bible and doing my scripture study. I switched over to the news on my iPad and there was nothing but negative news," Salazar said. "So I started thinking that ‘why don’t we do something nice. Where is the nice stuff that we are missing.’ So I started Googling random acts of kindness and one thing led to another.
"I emailed my staff Sunday morning and said we are going to talk about this Monday morning. We have a staff meeting every Monday. So we thought about hey let's come up with something where it shows an act of kindness toward somebody. How hard is it to tell somebody to have a nice day? It’s not. So we put it on a card. I give it to you, and then I tell you have a nice day. Then you have to hand out this card and give it to somebody else.”
Salazar said the response from the public has been very positive thus far in the implementation of the program. He added that it brightens the day of both the officer issuing the card and the person receiving it.
“It has been really, really moving fast. I stopped at a Whataburger this morning and there was some gentleman sitting in there and I handed my cards out to them. They really liked the idea. One of them said my daughter is in Europe can you give me a card to send to her,” Salazar said. “I had to go meet with a Texas Ranger on a case that we are working on and a couple was pulling out of a parking space. Of course, they see me in uniform and they tense up. I pulled the card out and said ‘Hey, y'all have a nice day.' The gentleman that I gave it to that was driving looked at it and said ‘you have a nice day, too, officer.’”
The cards are not meant to be kept, noted Salazar, but to be passed along to someone else, which he hopes will spread the good feeling received from reading the card.
However, before passing the card along Ferris Police officers encourage the public to post on its official Facebook page and share where they got the card and a comment about receiving it. When making the post, the person needs to list the card number so the department can track where the card goes to assess the success of the program.
So far, the social media aspect has worked, as well. Social media users have noted having received cards at grocery stores, restaurants and even at the doctor’s office.
“I received this card from two very impressive, polite Ferris officers while eating lunch at Whataburger. One uniformed officer handed me the card,” posted Larry Collinsworth to the Facebook page. “I’m a truck driver from Kansas and come through I-45 daily. As a former police chief, I was very impressed with these officers and this ‘Act of Kindness' program. Thanks, guys, I will pass this card on.”
Andrea Rhodes posted that she received a card at the I-45 Donuts in Ferris. Rhodes posted, “Thanks for making my sons day!”
“It has been a positive response from everybody that we have contacted. That is what we're trying to do. Yeah we are police officers, and we have a job to do, but you know we also have hearts and are individuals,” Salazar said. “We want to talk to you about anything put police work. Let me know how you are doing. Talk about the weather, talk about the Cowboys. So this opens up a dialog with people. A lot of people, especially right now, don’t have the best relationship with law enforcement. So I want to change that. I want to do my part to change that as much as possible. Small stuff like this does not hurt.”
Salazar encourages other departments to take steps to build and form a strong relationship with the community. He added that a program like this does not cost a lot implement but the act of telling someone to have a nice day can mean the world to him or her.
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