Apopka, FL — Last month, TFTP reported the story out of Orono, Minn. in which police officer Matt Siltala was called out to a residence over tall grass. Instead of ticketing the elderly woman who lived in the home and who could no longer mow her grass, Siltala cut her grass for her. Now, it appears that this kindness and community policing is spreading. After all, the best way to lead is by example, and Siltala’s example is hard not to follow.
A group called Raising Men Lawn Care Service RMLCS is an organization who created what they call the 50 yard challenge. The challenge is designed for boys and girls to encourage them to cut 50 yards in their community, for free.
We challenge you to cut 50 lawns FREE for the elderly, disabled, single mothers, and the veterans in your town. If you accept this challenge, all you need to do is send us a photo of you holding a sign saying “I accept the 50 Yard Challenge”, and in return, we’ll send you your white RMLCS shirt along with shades & ear protection to get you started.
If the child completes the challenge, they are given a free lawnmower and a visit from the charity. While this challenge was tailored toward children, the sentiment has spread and the Apopka police department has accepted it with the understanding that the do not wish to receive anything in return.
On Monday, several officers from the Apopka department accepted this 50 yard challenge and got to work right away. They cut four yards already. According to the city of Apopka Facebook page, those in need can even schedule the officers to come out to their property and cut their grass.
Today was the kick-off of the Fifty (50) Yard Challenge! Officers from the Apopka Police Department began mowing yards within the city and are eager to mow more. Please help spread the word.
What is the fifty (50) yard challenge? It is free lawn care completed on fifty yards for those in need. Apopka Police Officer Lemieux, Officer Reinhardt, and Officer Abrigani, have officially accepted the 50 Yard Challenge. Officer Lemieux heard about the fifty yard challenge and immediately contacted the program organizer, Mr. Rodney Smith Jr, (Twitter: @iamrodneysmith). After speaking with Mr. Smith, Officer Lemieux and Officer Reinhardt felt this was a project they wanted to get involved in and decided to bring the 50 Yard Challenge to Apopka. The officers will cut lawns for citizens throughout Apopka on their off duty time, with their own equipment and for free. Yes, for free. If you, or someone you know is a veteran, disabled, elderly, or a single mother, contact Officer Lemieux at [email protected] Officer Lemieux will reach out to those selected to schedule a date and time for their lawn to be serviced. If you or anyone you know are interested in accepting the 50 Yard Challenge, Officer Lemieux can provide you with information on how to proceed. Thank you Officer’s Lemieux, Reinhardt, and Abrigani for your commitment to our community and assisting those in need
Donning their RMLCS shirts, these three officers got right to work on their day off and began cutting grass.
This is what serving the community looks like. And if more departments would quit locking people up for victimless crimes and fighting the drug war and instead spend that time doing programs like this one, rest assured, the divide between the police and the policed would quickly subside.
The reason TFTP is giving this case attention is due to the fact that it is the opposite of what usually happens.
Had the elderly woman mentioned in the example above lived in Riesel, Texas, where 75-year-old Gerry Suttle lived, she would have had a warrant issued for her arrest for the tall grass.
Suttle had a warrant out for her arrest because she was just like the woman in Orono and could not mow her grass. Instead of help, however, she was threatened with being kidnapped and caged.
Or, if she would’ve lived in Dunedin, Florida, like Jim Ficken, this elderly woman could be losing her home entirely.
Last year, when he was out of town trying to take care of his late mother’s estate, his grass did what grass does, it grew. Knowing that it is unpleasing to neighbors to grow long grass, Ficken hired a friend to cut it for him while he was away, but that friend died and Ficken had no idea.
Because Ficken’s grass grew over 10 inches, the city government claimed he owed them money. Every day that Ficken kept his grass over the “legal limit,” the government would steal $500 from him. This went on for 57 days, and now, the government claims Ficken owes them nearly $30,000. Because Ficken is retired and on fixed income, he is unable to pay these ridiculous fines and now the government is stealing his house from him.
Thank you to the officers within the Apopka police department for showing the country that kindness and giving are far better solutions to problems than extortion and escalation.