Fort Worth, Texas, drivers were met with an unexpected surprise this week when — instead of receiving traffic tickets, they were given turkeys.
Five teams of officers spread out across the city this week to hand out the Thanksgiving birds instead of tickets for small violations in hopes of spreading a little holiday cheer and improving public perception, according to WFAA-TV.
"Even though we do enforce traffic law and we do have some unpleasant decisions to make, we still are about the people," Officer Anthony Colter said.
He made five stops for issues ranging from a failure to use a traffic signal to not wearing a seatbelt, but in each situation he gave the drivers a turkey instead of a ticket.
"We're going to overlook that," he told one driver. "Instead of giving out citations, we're going to give you a Thanksgiving turkey!"
#TurkeyShow https://t.co/8rGAR2PKtr— Fort Worth Police (@Fort Worth Police)1479399271.0
Officer G. Calzada organized the giveaway, according to ABC News. "We wanted to let our citizens know that we're not just out to give people tickets and take them to jail; we're also here to serve our community," he told the outlet.
Calzada said the somber faces he saw when he pulled people over quickly turned to smiles when they realized the cops had a Thanksgiving surprise for them.
Officers are being deployed to give out turkeys! Will you be one of the recipients? #turkeysnottickets https://t.co/w449wuZehW— Fort Worth Police (@Fort Worth Police)1479318193.0
"We're happy to do anything we can to bridge the gap between the police and community," he told ABC. "Unfortunately, officers are not always looked at in a positive way. We want to help change this perception."
The officers had the holiday birds because, earlier in the week, they were participating in community events to help bring food to local residents. When they found they had a few turkeys left over, they decided to hit the streets.
"This afternoon, our officers felt that they needed a change of pace!" the Fort Worth Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. "We had a few extra turkeys laying around, courtesy of Metro Ministries, and decided to show how thankful we are to our awesome citizens!"
Officer West's workout for the day! Handing out turkeys at Metro Ministry's turkey giveaway! https://t.co/PHNeijkyhN— Fort Worth Police (@Fort Worth Police)1479252613.0
Charles Miller, one Texas driver who was stopped for failing to use his turn signal, told WFAA-TV he was on his way to pick up his wife, who just had knee surgery, when he was pulled over. But when he saw the officer approaching his car with a turkey, he just started smiling.
"I'm going to tell everyone," he said. "I'm going to show 'em my turkey, too!"