A report that police in Arizona would be pulling over good drivers to reward them with convenience store coupons drew massive outrage on Monday — prompting cops to clarify they were never going to actually stop any motorists.
A tweet from Tempe outlet 12News about the local police department’s “Positive Ticketing Campaign” quickly went viral — with enraged Tweeters blasting the initiative as “trash” and “bullsh-t.”
“Today, Police are kicking off a campaign to promote good driving. Officers will be pulling people over who are following traffic laws…but instead of a ticket you’ll get a coupon for a free drink at Circle K-give us your reaction to this new initiative below!” the outlet wrote.
Keyboard warriors were furious.
“It’s ridiculous, I don’t want your free drink, I want you to leave me alone,” wrote @Astroglide13.
Added @grylxndr: “The reward I want from police for driving well is for them to leave me the f–k alone.”
“Dumbest idea ever. Don’t interrupt my day for a free drink,” tweeted @Scottcrates, while asking about the legality of pulling over someone without probable cause.
The Arizona Republic published an article saying the reported campaign “could be a constitutional violation.”
Hours later, the Tempe Police account explained that their plan was never to stop any drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians.
“It was never intended to be this, ‘We’re going to pull over cars’ or anything like that, because obviously we want to make sure people’s rights aren’t violated,” Detective Greg Bacon, with the Tempe Police media relations unit, told The Post.
Instead, police who observe pedestrians or bicyclists following traffic laws may walk up to them, thank them and hand them a coupon for a free drink at a Circle K convenience store, Bacon explained.
“We want to make very clear what the message is and always was,” he said. “This is about consensual interactions with the community.”
The campaign will mostly involve officers stationed in schools, where a cop might see a student biking with a helmet on, and later come up to them to say they appreciate it and hand them the coupon.
Bacon said he didn’t know where the disconnect stemmed from, and maintained: “This is an educational campaign. We stated explicitly that we weren’t pulling people over.”
News12 said that: “After we posted our clip from Today in AZ talking about the campaign, that was interpreted as officers rewarding drivers for following traffic laws, the clip went viral.”
The department had the same campaign last year, as part of the city’s Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities, Bacon said.
This year’s initiative was scheduled to coincide with the start of the school year in Arizona this week.