Cops in Billings, Montana give out turkeys instead of traffic tickets for Thanksgiving season

Written by: 
Emmalee Smith

Drivers in Billings, Montana got an unexpected surprise when police officers gave them cold turkeys instead of traffic tickets for the Thanksgiving season, according to the Billings Gazette. BYU-Hawaii students said they wish police here would do a similar thing as long as it didn’t cause an increase in speeding.


Aloha Meyer, a sophomore studying education from Molokai, said, “I feel like that would happen in Hawaii but I would like a lau lau … instead. I would be down if the police gave me a lau lau.”


Corbin Maciel, a freshman studying English from Oregon, said police in Hawaii may do something similar because the people are really nice. They would do it “maybe with some local food they would eat on Thanksgiving. … Maybe giving away a chicken is kind of like giving away a ticket. I’ve heard lots of gross things are under a chicken’s wings. [The police officers] would just have to say eat at your own risk.”


The article reports businessman Steve Gountanis bought the 20 frozen turkeys in and gave them to the local police department for them to distribute. Police officers reportedly checked for warrants after pulling over drivers with traffic violations and gave them a turkey instead of traffic tickets.


Larry Riddle, a local Montana driver, told the Gazette he appreciated the surprise after being pulled over for not signaling a turn on the road. He said after his wife passed away of cancer, he lives alone on a tight budget. For Thanksgiving, he invites his daughter over for a Thanksgiving meal he prepares for them.


Meagan Morrill, a sophomore studying biology from Utah, said she could see people using the opportunity to get a free turkey, though giving the turkey is “super nice” of the police.


If police here did it, Christina Rosenland, a sophomore studying biology from Texas, said, “I think people would speed more.”


Maciel said, “They should still give the person a ticket or something as long as there’s discipline involved. I could see people speeding down the highway trying to get free turkeys.”


Morrill added, “I think it would be super cool of them to do that here or do something for Christmas time. Maybe a cookie or a candy cane. I’ve heard of cops saying, ‘Merry Christmas, do better,’ but not this.”


According to USA Today, in Lowell, Michigan two years ago, police officers gave out gifts to drivers with minor traffic violations. When the police officers pulled them over, they asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then called part of the team at a nearby store and told them what they wanted. The police officers bought the present, wrapped it, and brought it as a gift to the drivers.


The idea came about by UPtv, a family programming network that filmed the police handing out the gifts for its “Uplift Someone” Christmas initiative. The police gave away 30 gifts that equaled up to $7,000.

Date Published: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017