Sherriff’s office hands out gift cards, not tickets.

Nikita Branstetter

nikita@scnoneida.net

On December 15, unexpected blue lights brought holiday cheer to several motorists, as the Scott County Sherriff’s Office initiated traffic stops throughout the area handing out unexpected surprises.

As most can relate, it’s never a great feeling to realize you’re being pulled over by the police, especially during the holiday season when money’s tight. However, a few drivers breathed a deep sigh of relief on Friday as they realized they weren’t being cited for any offenses, but rather given gift cards or turkeys by Sherriff Ronnie Phillips and members of the Scott County Sherriff’s Office.

“People have gotten the wrong perception of the police,” Phillips said. “We want to change that, and maybe spread some Christmas cheer also.”

Amanda Duncan was one of the 18 lucky people that benefited from the traffic stops. While Duncan believed she must have been speeding due to distractions, including worrying about the high cost of medication for her son, she was shocked to hear Drug Agent Kris Lewallen tell her he was stopping her for no violation, but to give her a gift card from Sherriff Phillips.

“I was so shocked! We were on the way to the doctor again with my son Orick, and I figured I had been speeding because I was so distracted worrying about the cost of his medicine,” Duncan stated. “It was truly a blessing, because I had been in a Grinch Christmas mood, and it really humbled me to think that the Scott County Sherriff was thinking of citizens and taking the extra initiative to spread Christmas cheer.”

As the gifts continued to pour out, Christmas cheer filled the air. Drivers continued to show their appreciation and excitement for the gifts given to them, and several asked for hugs and pictures.

Kristina Garner was another lucky motorist who recalls seeing the blue lights and having the disappointing feeling that she was getting a ticket. However, as Lewallen presented her with the gift card, her frown turned to a gleaming smile. A sincere thank you wasn’t enough for this driver, as she felt a hug of appreciation was in order.

“I felt relieved I wasn’t getting a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt, but I was speechless about the gift card,” Garner said. “I have been pulled over a few times before, and never had any problems with them. They are here to protect and serve the community, but they also have to protect themselves. I think they are very brave for putting their lives on the line for others. It was heartwarming to know that our Sherriff was so thoughtful of other people.”

Although the drivers may be considered the lucky ones being the recipients, it’s long been said that giving is better than receiving. One officer reports being blessed having the opportunity to give back.

“This was awesome,” Lewallen stated. “It felt great to have so many people ask me for a hug. That’s what we should be doing protecting and serving.”