On Wednesday and Thursday, Fremont police made it their goal to pull more people over than usual.
But it wasn’t to issue a citation, rather to brighten their holiday seasons with a Christmas card with a $100 bill inside.
Members of the Fremont Police Department handed out around 50 of the cards earlier this week, which were funded through an anonymous donor.
“You would think it would be easy to just go out, pull somebody over and give them a Christmas card, but it actually takes a little bit of work,” Fremont Police Chief Jeff Elliott said.
FPD has been having the Christmas card program ever since the donor starting giving money to the City for the last six or seven years, Elliott said.
“His goal is to increase relations between the police and the citizens of this city, and it always works for Christmastime,” he said.
Elliott said FPD was on the lookout for cars that looked like the people inside needed help during the holiday season.
“Basically, they’re looking for older cars, cars with car seats, people that look like they have multiple children in the car,” he said. “And then they’ll be looking for some small violation, dirty license plates, failure to signal, things that we don’t normally issue citations for.”
Elliott said along with the regular patrol force, an additional team made up of some of the new recruits worked overtime to patrol for the minor violations.
“They’ll use that as a pretext for the stop and then instead of a warning or citation, they’ll be issued a Christmas card,” he said. “Each one of the Christmas cards will have a $100 in it, and it generally makes people’s Christmas nice.”
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However, Elliott said the patrols still gave tickets to larger violations over the time period, including driving recklessly or far above the speed limit.
The first person pulled over Wednesday, Eliseo Lopez, said he was thankful for the Christmas gift, but said he was a bit scared at first.
“I got pretty nervous this morning because I checked my lights and I was going to get home and do some defrosting, but I didn’t expect this at all,” he said.
Lt. Kurt Bottorff, who pulled Lopez over, said the typical response he’s seen is usually tears, smiles and hugs.
“Sometimes when you hit that ultimate one, ‘I really can use this this time of the year,’ that’s when you really say, ‘Yeah, we got the right one,’” he said.
Patrol officer-in-training Jadyn Foster accompanied Bottorff during the early morning shift on Wednesday.
“This is my first time doing anything like this, and I just think it’s great, as far as community policing and just reinforcing relationships with the city.”
With this outreach to the community, Elliott said FPD wants to show people that interaction with police isn’t always something negative.
“Police show up, they’re either there because something bad happened to you or they’re there because something bad’s going to happen to you,” he said. “So we like to see that positive interaction between the police and the citizens.”