Police give drivers turkeys, not tickets, for Thanksgiving

A handful of police departments across the country opted to hand out the birds in traffic stops or at checkpoints


By Elizabeth Koh
The Sacramento Bee 

When Charles Miller was pulled over Wednesday for failing to use his turn signal, he worried. He was driving to see his wife at the hospital where she had recently undergone knee surgery, according to WFAA, and he suspected he was about to get a ticket.

But Fort Worth police had a surprise for him: no ticket, and a turkey for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

"I'm going to tell everyone," he said, according to the station. "I'm going to show 'em my turkey too!"

Miller wasn’t the only pleasantly surprised driver out there last week, as a handful of police departments across the country opted to hand out the birds in traffic stops or at checkpoints. In Brockport, N.Y., police gave 25 drivers turkeys during what appeared to be a normal inspection checkpoint Thursday, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Every tenth driver got a frozen bird and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, Officer Joshua Sime told the paper, praising the opportunity “for our officers to receive a thank you and to see someone happy.”

“Our job, by its sheer nature, doesn’t afford us as many opportunities as we would like to put a smile on someone’s face,” he added.

The sheriff’s office in Polk County, Texas, had a similar idea Friday, handing out turkeys purchased at Walmart to drivers pulled over at a traffic stop. In a Facebook post, they credited the “acts by other law enforcement officers” for inspiring their own effort, though they warned drivers “that all the turkeys were given out today. Attempts to get pulled over for a turkey might result in a real citation.”

Other police departments decided to skip the initial ruse: the Atlantic City Police Department, working with state associations, directly handed out 500 donated turkeys to residents of the city Thursday.

“We want to give back to the community. They need to know the police are there for more than just tickets,” Pete Stilianessis, president of the State Troopers NCO Association, told the Press of Atlantic City. “The police are there to help and support.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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