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Des Moines Program Targets Reduction in Confrontations with Public and Police

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- It's a feeling most have had.

"There's nothing worse than having a cop pull behind you right? Heart starts beating fast and you get nervous and start sweating," said Urban Dreams Associate Executive Director Izaah Knox.

But end results making national headlines from the Twin Cities and Tulsa of unarmed black men shot and killed by police during routine traffic stops are striking a nerve, even in Iowa.

"A situation right outside of Minneapolis, where a young man had been shot and pulled over because a brake light was out," said Knox.

The most recent video released on Sunday when Terence Crutcher was shot and killed after his vehicle stalled in the middle of a Tulsa road. Knox understands the tension across America right now because of it.

"There's so much fear that situations become escalated so fast."

It’s something John O'Halloran of Quality Services and his brother Jim of O'Halloran International, a truck repair shop in Altoona, couldn't stomach anymore.

John said, "The racial tensions across the country and the shootings going on, we were thinking what could we do in our small community of a local business to prevent this or give back to the community?"

Putting their strengths to good use, they've partnered with the Des Moines Police Department and Des Moines' Urban Dreams to help reduce traffic stops.

"We don't want anything to happen in Des Moines."

Technicians will offer free repairs to the first 400 cars to arrive at Des Moines North High School Saturday, Oct. 8.

O'Halloran said they will be checking a number of issues that can get someone pulled over.

"Checking bulbs, tail lights, brake lights, head lights, that sort of thing."

Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department said it's also about safety.

"The goal of this is to get cars up to speed so they are operating safely and effectively and so they don't have to have any conflict with police."

It's even causing Des Moines police to cut back on issuing fines for some violations.

Knox said, "They have cards in their car and as long as everything checks out and it's only a light violation, they will give you a referral to the program."

It’s proving the Des Moines Police Department’s level of care for their community.

"If we eliminate the factors that make that contact occur, then we aren't going to have those behavior driven episodes where something goes wrong, for whatever reason, and escalates into a tragedy," said Sgt. Parizek.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. Oct. 8 in the Des Moines North High School parking lot. There is no limit to the amount of lights you can have replaced for free.