These Police Officers Handed Out Turkeys Instead of Tickets During Thanksgiving Traffic Stops

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Thanks to police in one Arizona town, some desert turkeys made their way into cars instead of traffic tickets this Thanksgiving.

The Mesa Police Department surprised several drivers who thought they were in trouble this week. Fox News reported that police officers gave out turkeys. 

Turkeys Not Tickets From Arizona Police

Officer Jason Flam pulled over one driver to give him a tongue lashing about staying in his lane when turning instead of making a wide turn.

When he returned to his cruiser, he pulled out a turkey from a personal cooler instead of grabbing his ticket pad.

Flam told the local Fox affiliate that some drivers got emotional, and one man teared up at the sight of the holiday bird. The officer saw a few drivers who said they couldn’t afford the bird this year, and the traffic stop worked out for them. 

One driver already had her Thanksgiving turkey but gladly asked that Flam pass the turkey on to another needy person. Flam told the news station of another person he pulled over who was on the way to getting a turkey. The driver told the news station that Flam “saved me a few bucks.”

Mesa Police Not The Only Police Doing Turkey Giveaways

Mesa Police Department was just the latest law enforcement agency to participate in the “turkeys, not tickets” program. McAllen (Texas) Police and Fulton (Illinois) Police officers also gave out turkeys this year. 

In 2016, the Fort Worth (Texas) Police Department gave out turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving, and over the years, cities like San Francisco have also done their part.

This year’s a Mesa police commander came up with the idea. The commander wanted to see more police connect with the community, according to Fox 10. 

One driver named Mike Ormerod applauded the policing effort. 

“I think it’s a great idea. I was telling the officer, in the past few years, police officers, in general, have gotten a bad rap, and I think it’s important they get recognized for putting it out there every day,” Ormerod told the station.

Turkeys A No-No For Police?

Reason Magazine wasn’t hip to the idea of cops giving out turkeys and recently wrote about it.

The idea of giving out turkeys could be potentially against the law, the magazine said.

“They’re legal so long as there is reasonable articulate suspicion that a crime was committed,” says Andrew Fleischman, a defense attorney with Ross and Pines. “Absent that, it violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Way to spoil the holiday fun there, Mr. Lawyer!

Mesa Police are giving out turkeys based on minor traffic law infractions like stop sign violations, red light violations or wide turns. When these cops pull over cars, they’re checking for criminal offenses like warrants.

So feel some relief for getting pulled over and a turkey, but know there could be more involved than just that.