When a group of kids were outside a northeast Calgary home dancing and enjoying the warm weather, they had no idea what was in store when a CPS van pulled up to the curb and an officer got out.

“I thought we were doing something illegal or they weren’t even coming for us,” said Keerat Sandhu. “I thought something happened here last night.”

The officer pulled out his pad and began writing up a ticket for each of the kids, but it wasn’t for any type of violation. Instead, it was for being energetic, outside and, most importantly, following the rules.

The Calgary Police Service has been handing out ‘positive tickets’ for good behaviour for about a year or so, in an effort to build a positive relationship between the force and youth.

“The goal is to have a positive interaction with police instead of that situation where just something bad happened, [it shows] that police are here to help you as well,” says Constable Joe Cecchini.

Having their good deeds written out isn’t all the kids received for their positive attitudes.

Through a partnership with City of Calgary Recreation, they also got a free admission to city facilities for themselves and a friend.

The idea is a big hit with children, who have changed how they perceive police officers in the community.

“I’ve always thought of them as the kind of people who come when people are doing bad things, not just being energetic, so that was kind of a shock. They’re like really nice,” said Keerat.

“I think it’s really nice that he’s handing them out to kids that are being good. He handed one out to me for being a good sister,” said Karambir Sandhu.

Cecchini says the opportunity to hand out positive tickets is enjoyable for him too, especially considering that he deals with a multitude of calls for assistance throughout his working day, including handing out the tickets that people would rather avoid.

“Almost every day you’re going to give out one ticket a shift at least. Some days you’re giving out multiple tickets. It depends; every day is different because that’s what’s exciting about policing.”

He says that the program is very satisfying for everyone involved too.

“I don’t know what those previous times they’ve seen a police officer and what those circumstances are, so this is an opportunity for us to give them a positive experience and it works great with the City of Calgary Recreation Department. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible to do this.”

(With files from Alesia Fieldberg)