Confusion and angry social media posts were sparked Monday by a local news report from Arizona that claimed police would be pulling individuals over and giving them tickets not for breaking traffic law, but to reward them for following the law.
A morning segment for Arizona NBC affiliate 12 News
reported that police would be "pulling people over who are following traffic laws" and giving them coupon tickets for a free drink at Circle K as part of a campaign to promote good driving.
Today, Police are kicking off a campaign to promote good driving. Officers will be pulling people over who are following traffic laws...but instead of a ticket you'll get a coupon for a free drink at Circle K-give us your reaction to this new initiative below! #TODAYinAZ pic.twitter.com/sP0AjvHFU7
— 12 News (@12News) July 29, 2019
Some people reacting to the report on social media were upset with the idea that police might stop innocent civilians for doing nothing wrong.
People have places to be. This is stupid. It's also unsafe.
— Adam McG (@sg1archive) July 29, 2019
Good idea, scare the hell out of normal people for a coupon.
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) July 29, 2019
Good intent behind the idea... but I don't want to get pulled over for any reason unless legitimate. What if I'm late for work? Late for an appointment? At that point I don't care about a blue raspberry slurpee
— Brown Man Speaketh 🧔🏽 (@BrownManSpeak) July 29, 2019
Journalists commenting on the story noted it would potentially be illegal for police to pull over people who weren't suspected of committing a crime or traffic violation.
This is really really bad and can cause bad and dangerous situations, we were over this with the ice cream https://t.co/6ijyt2DijC
— Shoshana Weissmann, Sloth Committee Chair 🦥 (@senatorshoshana) July 29, 2019
Hello, @TempePolice. This is a terrible idea and might actually be illegal. https://t.co/D2Kp06wYJ4
— Fernanda Santos (@ByFernandaS) July 29, 2019
This is incredible. How does @TempePolice not understand that it tramples over people's rights? And, the kicker - they decide to pick winners in the market by choosing which private biz to support? https://t.co/0LOzo7nLOa
— Karl Baker (@kbaker6) July 29, 2019
Responding to the budding controversy, the Tempe Police Department clarified that cops "will not be proactively stopping vehicles, bicycles, scooters or pedestrians."
Positive Ticketing Campaign: the purpose of the event is to positively engage with the public regarding laws pertaining to bicyclist, scooter and pedestrian safety. During this campaign, @TempePolice will not be proactively stopping vehicles, bicycles, scooters or pedestrians.
— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) July 29, 2019
Speaking to 12 News, Tempe Police Det. Greg Bacon further clarified that officers won't pull over drivers, but will look for opportunities to engage with citizens about traffic laws.
"We will be having positive conversations with citizens, say an officer happens to stop somewhere and see somebody, and says 'Hey would you mind having a conversation with me?' (to) educate them on bicycle laws and traffic laws," Bacon said.
12 News reporter Colleen Sikora posted the police department's original press release, showing that it wasn't clear Tempe police would not be pulling people over.
So we've been talking about @TempePolice issuing “tickets" for following traffic laws pertaining to bicycles and pedestrians. They've clarified they're not going to physically pull people over. That wasn't originally clear in their release on the campaign. Release is below: pic.twitter.com/vZLAN5ICsu
— Colleen Sikora (@ColleenSikora) July 29, 2019
So drivers won't actually be pulled over and handed "tickets" for good driving. But were handing out a few free drinks at Circle K to promote good driving worth all this confusion? The best reward for citizens who follow the law might be for the government to leave them alone.