Police in Montana surprise drivers with turkeys instead of tickets for minor traffic violations

Officer Andrew Sanders with the Billings Police Department surprises unsuspecting drivers with free frozen turkeys on Wednesday, Nov. 8. KTVQ

(CBS) – Drivers in Billings, Montana, were able to breathe a sigh of relief after getting pulled over by police last week.

Instead of handing out tickets for minor traffic violations — like a broken tail light — on Wednesday, officers gifted 20 lucky drivers with a special holiday treat.

After asking for a driver’s license and registration, officers returned to their patrol cars to scan for any outstanding warrants. If everything checked out, they returned with a written warning and a frozen Albertsons turkey in hand.

“You guys have your turkey all set up and ready to go yet?” Officer Andrew Sanders with the Billings Police Department asked one driver. “Maybe I’ll just make your decision for turkey easier this year and just hand you one.”

“Oh, is that right? Well, thank you. That’s awfully kind of you,” one driver replied, as he happily accepted a 20-pound frozen turkey from the cop.

“Oh, you guys! Thank you,” another driver chuckled as Sanderson handed her a frozen bird.

“Is that okay with you?” he asked.

“Yeah, you guys are sweethearts,” she said as she put away her wallet.

The turkeys were donated by Steve Gountanis, a local business man, who asked traffic enforcement officers to distribute them ahead of Thanksgiving.

“It’s just one more way to give back,” Sanders told CBS affiliate KTVQ.

Sanders said he was more than happy to spend his afternoon on this unique patrol. He enjoyed getting to interact with the public in such a positive light.

“You don’t get to see the amount of traffic stops that we make, or the DUIs that we stop from hitting people, or the drugs that we take off the streets,” Sanders said. “So to have that tangible thing you’re able to see and know that you’re making a difference, even if it is just a turkey, in someone’s life is kind of nice.”

The police department shared the uplifting story on their Facebook page, and received dozens of comments praising them for their good dead.

“What a fabulous gesture,” one Facebook user commented.

“This is awesome to see! A different perspective to their days,” another wrote.

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