The Brookline Police Department has been giving away citation tickets to children for good behavior all summer long. With their tickets in hand, the kids are summoned to ice cream shops as honorable guests, and are rewarded with free ice cream cones. It’s part of the department’s summer program, known as Conehead Citations, and with just over a month left, kids in Brookline might just get caught being good by showing responsible safety behaviors.

Brookline police officers can be just about anywhere, circulating the neighborhood and keeping an eye out for children 13 years or younger, who are demonstrating safe and responsible actions. For example, riding a bicycle or a skateboard with a helmet, or crossing the street properly all promotes safe behavior.

This is the second consecutive year the department has run the program, but the Conehead Citation program had once existed before.

“We brought it back, we ran with it, it was a hit, and we decided to bring it back again this year,” said Katie McCabe, community officer of the Brookline Police Department. “The officers I’ve talked to love it, because it gets them out of their car. They get to stop and talk and tell them [the kids] about why they’re giving it [citations] to them.”

Officers can find kids in Brookline’s many neighborhood parks. According to McCabe, she finds them by chance.

“I just go out searching for kids,” she said. She said it gets easier to find kids showing safety behaviors as the summer goes on.

Luckily, McCabe is also a crossing guard over by the Runkle School. She remembered a boy she crossed everyday, who always wore his helmet religiously. So when summer came, the first ticket she gave away was to that boy. After issuing him the ticket and speaking with him, she learned that he was approaching the sixth grade and that it was actually her second time giving him the ticket, which she didn’t remember until the boy reminded her.

“He remembered, I didn’t, that I gave one to him last year as well,” she said. “I guess that touched him because he remembered, so that touched me.”

When officers issue tickets to children, they first fill in the child’s name on the citation ticket, and record the reasoning by checking off which listed safety behavior the child did. Officers then give their signature and date and give the ticket to the child. McCabe says the paper is designed to look like a ticket, but it acts as a coupon for free ice cream.

JP Licks in Coolidge Corner and Emacks and Bolio’s in Washington Square are the program participants, giving away free ice cream cones to any kid who walks in waving their tickets in the air.

“We all get a kick out of it,” said Stewart Kagel, owner of Emack and Bolio’s.

When he was asked by McCabe to participate again for the second time around, he said he did not hesitate to join.

“It’s a genius program,” Kagel said noting that, as a longtime Brookline resident himself, with the increase of young families in Brookline, promoting safety behavior is crucial. “It’s really fun, and it’s not just a random thing. It promotes biker safety.”

Emack and Bolio’s was founded in Brookline, and the store had existed for 10 years now, having expanded in other locations. Kagel remembered a young boy with a ticket who came in the shop with his family.

“They were all smiles, especially the little boy,” he said. “Everyone was beaming.”

The boy got a ticket from the police for wearing a helmet.

Most of the time Kagel sees people of all ages come in the ice cream shop with a smile and leave with a smile. But the kids who come in with their tickets always come in with a smile and give off a different vibe.

“They come in with a sense of pride and reward,” he said. He let’s them choose any flavor they want, guaranteeing that they’ll leave with a smile. “This is a reward for them, so we don’t limit that.”

On average two rewarded kids walk in per day. The Cookie Monster, which is vanilla ice cream with specs of cookie dough and Oreo cookie crumbles, happens to be the most popular flavor among them. For the remaining summer, Kagel said he expects several dozen more kids to walk in for free ice cream.

“When I see the police, I’d like to thank them for including us in this,” he said. “It’s a great idea, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

The program started on June 21 and ends on September 2, which is also when the citation tickets expire, giving kids up to three months to exchange their tickets for ice cream. Right now, 200 tickets are in circulation, and another 100 will be given out in August, totaling 300 tickets. That’s 300 lucky kids and 300 ice cream giveaways.

For Officer McCabe, she enjoys the program. She holds a bunch of those coupons, or citations, in her car and in her pockets, because she’s usually on foot.

“I pretty much prefer the positive interactions,” she said.

By Vekonda Luangaphay