For years, police officers around the country have been pulling people over for non-traffic crime related reasons and giving them things ranging from frozen turkeys to engagement rings. This is dumb, but the Tempe, AZ, police department has managed to top its predecessors.
Monday began with multiple reports that the Tempe Police Department is rolling out a new program in which they pull people over who aren’t breaking any laws, and then give them...a coupon for a free drink at a gas station.
After a thorough roasting on social media, the Tempe PD clarified that they’re not going to pull drivers over, but rather cyclists and pedestrians:
While this is marginally better than pulling over drivers, it’s still an incredibly dumb idea, particularly for cyclists. There are so many things wrong with giving a police department an excuse to stop and question people who are not breaking any laws, let alone one which was involved in the killing of a 14-year old boy carrying an airsoft gun earlier this year, that it’s hard to know where to begin. But first, let’s talk about this “reward” for having your day temporarily brought to a dead stop, while the fear of God and expensive legal proceedings runs through you just so a uniformed police officer who is armed with a gun can tell you that you’re doing a great job.
A medium Froster at Circle K (which is what’s being offered, according to a sign a few kids were holding up during this segment about the promotion that ran on another Arizona TV station today), judging by my intensive research, will cost you less than $2. Wow! I know money is tight at the Tempe Police Department—probably because they outfitted their motorcycles with AR15s—but if you’re going to stop people from getting to work or literally whatever else they need to do, give them something worth their time. Maybe a “get out of a ticket free” card, or I don’t know, maybe a thousand bucks. An off-brand Slurpee? No thank you. Not interested.
Apart from forcing a considerably terrifying experience onto people—especially people of color—and then giving them a free brainfreeze for their trouble, it’s also only a matter of time before these friendly stops for “positive ticketing” turn into excuses for probable cause. Sir, do you know why I stopped you? It’s because you’re actually doing a great jo—hey, do I smell weed? Hands up!!!
Cities, police departments, whoever keeps making these horrible decisions: Please stop forcing people to talk to the cops for no good goddamn reason. Everyone involved has a plethora of more useful ways to spend their time. And given how many people die at the hands of police every year, it’s clear that the fewer interactions people are forced to have with the cops, the better—even if it means you don’t have a gas station slushee to look forward to at the end of it.