PLATTE WOODS, Mo. -- Drivers don't usually want to be pulled over by the police.
On Thanksgiving Thursday, officers from one metro police department add a surprise gimme to each routine traffic stop. It's their way of pausing to thank the public.
Drivers never see the surprise coming. On Thanksgiving Day, officers from the Platte Woods Police Department delivered expressions of their appreciation to motorists they'd stop. When Deputy Chief Tom Noon and Officer Robert Cutler pull drivers over for routine violations, they skip the citations in many cases, opting instead for a special greeting card, which express their thanks to the public.
When patrol officers stop motorists, the conversations aren't guaranteed to be pleasant. Cutler and Noon handed out 40 of those cards. The front of the cartoon cardstock shows an uniformed police officer riding a turkey. The card's inside includes a message that shared their appreciation for the public's cooperation:
"Thank you for supporting the police departments in our communities with your tax dollars. Without the support of the public, we would not be able to keep our communities safe. In appreciation, this car stop is only a warning. For the good of our cities, we want you to be safe and in compliance with all laws. Have a safe and wonderful holiday season. -The Platte Woods Police Department."
Cutler and Noon said they enjoy the unexpected moments of joy when they surprise motorists with the cards instead of a ticket. The idea began last December, when Platte Woods officers handed out 40 donated VISA gift cards, along with a warning for their violation. Noon emphasized those prepaid cards were given to police by a private party, and no tax dollars were spent to get them. Noon said the department will distribute those prepaid VISA cards again this coming holiday season.
"We feel that a warning can be as effective as a ticket and it's good interaction with the public. That's what we're all about, interacting with them," Deputy Chief Noon said.
Most drivers Noon and Cutler pull over have no red flags on their records. The officers said they still have to address the ones who do, or who are found to have committed more serious offenses.
"It's the idea of the surprise and the unexpected. When you get the opportunity to give someone an unexpected gift, that brings joy to both parties. It's fun to be able to do that," Officer Cutler said.
Luis Cuellar is one driver the officers stopped on Thursday, as officers stopped his black sports car on NW Prairie View Road during the afternoon hours. He said he was stunned that he'd been pulled over on Thanksgiving Day.
"Everything came crashing down to be honest with you," Cuellar said smiling. "I'm very thankful. It reminds us of how we're taking these guys for granted, and all the bad media coverage about them. It's an eye-opener."
Deputy Chief Noon says the department has 50 of those kind cards ready to go. He says the goodwill expressions are another method of showing appreciation to the people who support the police.