Thanksgiving is synonymous with tradition. Police departments have noticed a trend in recent years to pull over uninformed drivers and hand out turkeys rather than tickets.
This holiday season was no exception, with media reports detailing such outreach efforts put on by the Mesa Police Department in Arizona, the McAllen Police Department in Texas, and the Fulton Police Department in Illinois.
But there’s a catch.
Andrew Fleischman (defense attorney at Ross and Pines) says, “They are legal so long that there is reasonable articulate suspicion of a crime being committed.” It violates the Fourth Amendment if it is not.
So, even though every turkey driver was pulled over by police for being suspected of a traffic offense, they have not violated any constitutional rights. This is not the case.
Some police departments don’t hide it. Fulton police in Illinois for instance, admit that they don’t respect the Constitution but conduct traffic stops against those who violate it. DoFollow the road rules. SaukValley.com has a story about the program that states “Officers weren’t plundering out scofflaws.” Operation Turkey Stop rewards drivers who are mindful.
While other departments may not be as bold with their messaging, officers are unlikely to exchange turkeys for tickets for drivers who actively harm others or abuse the rules.
“I was just like “Oh my god, no, how did you do?” Perla Romano said that she was stopped in McAllen Texas. Perla Romano, who was stopped in McAllen, Texas. “I just panicked. Mesa police may focus on minor civil offenses. A local report mentions a Mesa man being stopped for making a “wide turn”.
McAllen Police Department spokeswoman was unavailable for comment. Fulton Police Department and Mesa Police Department did not respond to the request. ReasonAs of this writing,’s request.
Although the idea may seem benign, it is important to remember that the Fourth Amendment was created for two reasons: First, you have the right to privacy and second, to not be subject to unreasonable searches or seizures. Imagine what could happen if a police officer stopped someone for buying a turkey but snagged a tainted ounce of pot. You could trade that Thanksgiving meal for a possible jail cell.
Most traffic stop situations do not turn into violence or death. These situations aren’t uncommon. An investigation by The New York Times police have killed more than 400 unarmed passengers—who were not suspected of any violent crimes—during traffic stops over the last five years, which amounts to more than one death a week. “It’s [a]Fleischman says that they were making frivolous uses of their monopoly over force.”
According to Mesa Police Department the purpose of the program is to foster affection between police officers and citizens in a period when they have been subject to unprecedented resistance. This trust is crucial to safer communities, according to research. There are other ways police can do this than flouting the law and violating constitutional rights.