Deputy hands drivers $100 instead of tickets

Most of the time when you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer it’s because you’re speeding. But Thursday, Monroe County deputies pulled folks over for a different reason.

Monroe County Sheriff John Bittick says an anonymous person donated a little more than $5,000 to the sheriff’s office. Bittick says that person asked if deputies could pull over people with some minor violations, and give them money instead of tickets. The goal is to help people out just before the holidays.

Deputy Timothy Campfield says it’s not every day you get to hand out cash instead of citations.

One motorist, Angel Scott, lives in Monroe County and couldn’t believe she was getting pulled over.

“‘I pulled you over because (of) your heads lights’ or little minor violation(s) and typically, what happens with that is you would most likely get a ticket. Today we’re out giving something different than tickets. We’d like to give you a donation toward your family to help you with whatever you need to do,” said Campfield.

“Can I hug you?,” Scott asked.

So, is it legal for deputies to pull over drivers and hand them cash?

If the officer has a probable cause to pull the driver over, like a missing headlight or speeding, then they are not violating the person’s liberty, according to John Watson, a former lawyer and the director of the journalism division at American University.

“If this pulling over is just a friendly suggestion, rather than a shouted order accompanied by the threat of gunfire, it probably isn’t a deprivation of liberty,” Watson told USA TODAY Network. “[That’s because] the person accosted could simply say, ‘No thank you officer, I would prefer to continue freely enjoying my liberty instead of stopping briefly to accept this wonderful gift from you and be reminded that the season of joy is upon us.'”

Scott wasn’t the only driver Campfield turned his blue lights on for.

“You were telling me that work has been a little slow,” Campfield said. “Instead of handing you a citation or writing you a ticket that’s gonna cost you money, I’d like to give you this donation. Take it with you for your family.”

William White has two children and a wife he says he hasn’t even bought Christmas presents for.

“Are you sure? I can’t accept that. You aren’t going to put your handcuffs on me are you,” White said.

Campfield also stopped Renee Smith. Smith says the money will help pay for gifts for others.

“It’s gonna help Christmas,” she said. “We’ve only bought one gift for my grandson, and that’s it. We haven’t done anything else so far.”

Bittick says he hopes the tradition will continue next year.

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