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'Project Taillight' Offers Car Repairs To Reduce Interactions With Police

Car headlight
Ivan Radic
Flickr Creative Commons

A new program will help lower-income Columbus residents with free repairs for things like broken turn signals that often result in people getting pulled over by police.

Students in Columbus State's automotive technology program will do the repairs for the initiative known as Project Taillight. People and families making less than 200% of the local poverty level, which is $52,500 for a family of four, can get free repairs for broken headlights, taillights, license plate lights and turn signals.

The next Project Taillight event will take place Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at Columbus State.

“We know that non-violent crime is often linked to poverty and lack of economic opportunity, and the City Attorney’s Office remains committed to finding creative ways to reduce these avoidable interactions between neighbors and law enforcement,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in an emailed statement.

“Our hope is that this program will help keep our neighbors safe and reduce traffic violations for small issues like a broken taillight or turn signal, giving police officers even more time to focus on more urgent, violent crime in our community,” Klein said.

As a pilot program, Project Taillight is currently scheduled to run through the end of 2021. The $50,000 budget comes from a mix of funding from the city, Franklin County, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.