By Theresa Ekdom
ROSCOMMON–Monday morning, Dec. 12, Roscommon County Sheriff Department and Gerrish Police were in force handing out turkeys and gift cards instead of tickets.
After being stopped for minor traffic violations including speeding and license obstruction, drivers were told about the program. When returning their driver’s license, officers also handed the driver a frozen turkey and a gift card.
“It’s nice to be able to give officers a chance to have a positive impact,” Sergeant Greg Patchin of the Gerrish police said. “What people fear is a negative (traffic stop) turns out to be a positive. It’s neat to see the appreciation.”
The Sheriff Department started the program last year. They invite Gerrish Township, Denton Township and Richfield Township police departments to join them in handing out the turkeys.
“I would much rather hand out turkeys than tickets,” Deputy AJ Kory of the Roscommon Sheriff Department said.
The program was met with enthusiasm and hugs from the drivers. Seth Sebert of Roscommon was a passenger in one of the stopped vehicles who remembered the program from last year.
Floyd Iverson hasn’t had a ticket in “30 or 40 years” when he got stopped. “This is much better,” he said after hearing he would be getting a turkey rather than a ticket.
After initial shock and wondering why they were being pulled over, drivers would offer up handshakes and hugs upon hearing what was happening.
“That made my day!” exclaimed Peggy Kish. “I just think that’s wonderful. I couldn’t figure out what I did. How nice!”
Funding for the program was provided by the Houghton Lake Rotary, the Roscommon Rotary and private individuals.
Traffic stops were made in Denton and Richfield townships later that week. In all, 50 turkeys and 65 gift cards were handed out.