Imagine seeing those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, the adrenaline pumping through your body, and wondering what you did wrong. You slow down, pull over, and with a sinking feeling roll down the window of your vehicle, waiting for the police officer to ask for your drivers licence and insurance. YES! We’ve all been there! But how many of us have been asked by a smiling police office how our day is going, how the Christmas shopping is coming along, and asking what special gift we are still looking for?
Well! That exactly what’s been happening around the USA this Christmas season! In numerous cities and towns across our nation, police departments, with the help of local businesses and public donations, have given money, gift cards and gifts to stunned motorists who thought they were getting a ticket. Some drivers were so overwhelmed by the generosity that they gasped or broke into tears. Some laughed, stared in disbelief, and some just shook their heads in amazement. But it was the same EVERYWHERE… Motorist were truly SURPRISED and..even better…Police Officers around America have been getting great big hugs!
Lowell Police Department in Minnesota came up with a unique idea to change a person’s day ‘in real time.’ Police Chief Steven Bukala explains what the police, with the help of Meijer Supermarket chain, organized for their community this Christmas season in the following video and how they turned a citizen’s bad day into a totally unexpected ‘good’ one. http://mychannel957.com/lowell-police-surprise-drivers-with-christmas-gifts-video/
Staff members in the store could hear the dialogue exchange between the motorist who was pulled over for a minor traffic violation as the officer asked for license and insurance. As soon as the officer asked, “Have you got all your Christmas shopping done?” the employees at Meijer’s went into action grabbing and wrapping the specific gift that the citizen was still looking for and (unseen by the driver) delivered it to the officer. Within minutes (because Meijer’s was just across the street) the officer ‘magically’ presented the gift to the surprised motorists.
Time and time again, throughout this Christmas season, bewildered motorists have asked, “How did you do this?” They have turned around in their seats trying to figure out where the gifts came from and how they arrived. Police delighted in explaining that it was a combination of radios, sleighs, and magic elves. Toys, electronics, iphones, gift cards, and games were all part of the give-away present extravaganza.
In Toledo, Ohio, the Police Department, again with the help of Meijer Supermarket chain, gave out $25 to $100 gift cards to the store for good driving. As Sgt. Alanna Whatmore says, “We are not the bad guys, and we do have feelings ourselves, and it is quite emotional going out to see the reactions; we just want to make a difference.” And that’s just what they have been doing this Christmas season.
Everyone they stopped either driving or walking along the way, was genuinely surprised to receive a gift card. Many people responded on Facebook sharing their experience and how they were thankful and blessed. Police officers reported a lot of crying and a lot of hugs. Often people who were helped told their back stories and why the gift was so helpful to them at this time.
The Police Department received $2000 in donations from local business to reward good drivers and assist those in need. People were surprised when they received a gift card just because they had fully stopped at a stop sign or because they had their kids buckled up properly.
Around the USA, police officers have the trunks of their service vehicles filled with presents to distribute to unsuspecting kids. Patrol officers are giving out $100 bills and gift cards. Department stores, supermarkets, and local businesses are supporting police departments to make it possible for officers to give gifts to the citizens they serve and protect. Oklahoma, Oregon, Ohio, and Minnesota are just some of the places. American One has partnered up with the Jackson County deputies in Michigan promoting the gift giveaways like the one in Lowell.
Because National Highway Statistics of 2015 showed that 840 people died last year from drunk drivers, Meridian, Mississippi created the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign for this 2016 Christmas season, but there was a twist. Capt. John Griffith explained the program; each motorist who could show a valid license, insurance, and who had no sign of intoxication would be rewarded with a turkey from the city. This program will continue until January 1st. They’ve already singled out a lot of good drivers…and so far have given away a lot of turkeys!
Everywhere police have devised innovative ways to reward motorists for following traffic laws and, in many cases, just to make them smile during this sometimes stressful time of year. The town of Covina, California used a police officer dressed as Santa in their scheme to recognize courteous drivers.
The drivers who stopped to allow Santa to safely cross the intersection in the crosswalk were given a $25 gift card. Not one had any idea how to answer when the officer who had pulled them over asked, “Do you know why you were stopped?” When told it was for courteous driving, most laughed saying, of course, they would stop for Santa! But also added that they would also stop for anyone in the crosswalk. That was exactly the point; those recognized were courteous, careful drivers all the time. Capt. Greg Peterson told reporters, “We wanted to do something different!” He continued, because it was important to take the time to ‘salute’ those who did the right thing.
That’s how the residents of Jackson Hole, Wyoming feel as well. According to the Teton County sheriff’s department a substantial amount of money has been donated by its affluent residents in order to reward ‘nice’ behavior. In fact, an APB has been put out in search of people doing good deeds…and just about anything counts.” Money has been given to those who have helped their neighbors, who have paid attention to traffic signals, those who have pulled motorists out of snowbanks, in fact, for any good deed that police officers have run across. $100 bills have been given to those who can’t quite make ends meet, as well.
As Sheriff Jim Walen says, “ This is all about spreading goodwill in almost any way we can.” There is little doubt, that when confronted with a choice of being either Naughty…or Nice, at least in Jackson Hole, it pays to choose ‘NICE.’
There are so many police departments around our nation that want to make a positive difference and to show that they care. The Christmas season, the time of giving, provides those who wear the badge that unique chance to meet those they serve and to have some fun, and that’s exactly what is happening right now.
—by K.A. Huffman