You probably remember that in June of last year, the Police Department's Eastern Division launched its Not In My City Campaign to reduce crime.

That included a crackdown on quality of life crimes, such as public drinking, and the bike offences: riding up-stop, double riding, and riding bikes without bells and lights. The mass arrests for the bells and lights offences hit the news when residents were complaining that 100 dollar fines were harsh, given that, in their opinion, the police had more important crimes to investigate.

It received almost universal condemnation from the poor residents of the city, who also claimed uneven treatment under the law. Police, for the most part, bore the tough critics, and kept up with the crackdown.

That's over 8 months ago, and on Friday night, Eastern Division felt that it was time to give back to the community with a lighter touch. They invited the media for a ride-along on while they randomly gave out 100 bells and lights to residents who were breaking the law. Our news was there, and Daniel Ortiz reports:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
On Friday night Eastern Division police officers took the media out with them on operation. At first glance, it appeared to be a sting operation to catch persons who were riding around bicycles without bells or lights. The people who we saw certainly thought so. They did all they could to avoid being charged.

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division
"Goodnight, where is your bell?"

ACP Dezerie Phillips - OC, Eastern Division
"How will you indicate your presence on the road?"

Resident
"But this is working. This light is working."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"You know what is the penalty for light and bell?"

Resident
"One hundred dollars or something."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"You know what is the penalty for light and bell?"

Resident
"Yes sir."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"What's the penalty? One hundred dollars."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"You know what is the penalty for light and bell?"

Resident
"I got charged the last time for light."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"And how much you pay at the court?"

Resident
"I think it was $175."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster
"You have that money to go to court with you on Monday and pay that fine?"

Resident
"I don't have that right now."

Resident
"I want to tell you a story that they stole my light. I was intact, because what they did was they took off my thing."

Police Officer
"Who did that?"

Resident
"I don't know who did that. The way the officer is coming down on me is like I have to subject to what."

But they didn't have to fret because on Friday night, police were out on a community policing initiative.

ACP Dezerie Phillips - OC, Eastern Division
"It's something that we wanted to give back to the community. As you can see some of the expression on people's faces that they really appreciate the initiative and it is something that we are doing in the spirit of community orientated policing."

The objective was to give away 100 bells and 100 lights to everyone the officers encountered breaking the law. On Friday, the officers wanted to do something positive for the community, to relieve the tension that police were "charge-happy", or always willing to interdict offenders of the law.

Police Officer
"The police will give you a bell and a light, so that tomorrow or the next day you won't break the law. How does that sound?"

Resident
"Good."

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division
"We will give you a light and a bell."

Resident
"Well, I could work with that."

ACP Dezerie Phillips - OC, Eastern Division
"Hear what we will do tonight, just because it's you and because we love you. We will give you a light and a bell."

Resident
"Appreciated."

Police Officer
"Police will put a light on your bike, so if you are riding down the street, the man who is driving his car can see you."

Resident
"This is Petro Caribe too?"

Some of the petty law breakers appeared only too relieved to get their free bell and lights, wanting to escape as soon as police let them go.

But, mostly, they were grateful to the law enforcers' generosity.

Daniel Ortiz
"Just now the police stopped you. Do you believe that they would charge you for something?"

Resident
"I was trying to get my light out of my pocket."

Daniel Ortiz
"But of course the light is supposed to be attached onto the bike."

Resident
"Right away I got conscious and I say time to put on my light."

Daniel Ortiz
"So, you figure that you would have taken a fine tonight?"

Resident
"Yes, tonight was my night off."

Daniel Ortiz
"At least the officers decided that tonight is the night that they were going to be nice instead of being strict."

Resident
"Appreciated."

Daniel Ortiz
"You expect that police would have charged you just a while ago when they caught you?"

Resident
"Yes, I believe so. But I thank them for not charging me. I thank them for the light and bell also."

Daniel Ortiz
"Was it something that you expected?"

Resident
"I never expect them to give you a free bell and a free light."

Daniel Ortiz
"I am very sure that when the officers stopped you just now, you thought you would get a fine?"

Resident
"I thought so. I had my bell, but my light wasn't working, for I was looking for a fine, so I told the officer that I don't have $100. The police man, they save me one."

Eventually, City residents stopped avoiding the officers while breaking these laws. Word eventually got around that police were giving away free bells and lights, and they soon swarmed the officers, requesting the handout. Usually, this kind of close contact between police and civilian crowds meant that a crime had been committed, and the responding officers were trying to control the scene. But, that wasn't the case on Friday.

ACP Dezerie Phillips - OC, Eastern Division
"It's a very overwhelming turn out of persons. Actually we didn't expect people to be gathered in this kind of setting, but you saw how it started off. We actually searched for persons and we found many person without light and bell. I think that the overall reaction is that people is very much appreciated of it and for us police officers, this is very gratifying to see the reaction on people's face, when they thought that they were going to be charged and taken and go before the court and receive a fine, but it is gratifying to see that they appreciate it and the smile on their face is what makes us happy."

Resident
"When you get charged, don't complain about light and bell n your bike. That why they are giving you it, so you all please come and get it."

On Friday's operation, the police officers also recovered a stolen motorbike. A part of the operation was to do random vehicle stops and searches, where the drivers breaking the traffic laws would be warned.

Channel 7