PROSPER, Texas — In the bucolic town of Prosper (Texas), police officers are using positive reinforcement to encourage safe driving, particularly in school zones during drop-off and pick-up time. Drivers who demonstrate safe driving — appropriate speed into and out of the school zone, proper use of a turn signal, and having children secured in their safety seats, for just a few examples — are being stopped and ‘cited’ with gift cards.
Before we even get to the video, the first thing that pops into my mind is "who the heck is paying for these gift cards?" Now prosper Texas might have enough taxpayers doing well enough to not care that police are re-appropriating funds for random ass kissing, but in the rest of the country there is a recession on. If this idea came to my town, I would be livid that they are taking money from me in taxes, and then handing it out to soccer moms for wearing their seatbelt.
While your initial reaction might be "oh, that's nice of them," don't be fooled. This is a Trojan horse and a psyop for the police to measure public resistance to a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment. Without probable cause, at the very least, that a crime has occurred police do not have the right to stop you. But how does the public react when the police violate their most basic, fundamental rights as an American...?
"It's really awesome. Nyuck nyuck! Made my day. Nyuck nyuck!" -Caitlin Woody, Driver
Just because they are handing out gift cards does not change the fact that what they are doing is the legal equivalent of stopping you for no reason at all on the way to the mall and tearing your car apart looking for drugs. In fact, let us look at the legal implications of such a "community relations" stop.
Let us pretend for a moment that an officer has stopped a vehicle with the intent of handing out a gift card, but then smells alcohol on the person's breath. He then conducts a field sobriety check and a subsequent search of the vehicle which turns up an illegal firearm and some drugs. Now, at that point the officer can either lie and say that he had probable cause, or the entire case and all of the charges will be thrown out in court because the officer failed to establish probable cause to make the stop.
Now some folks might then say "oh it's just a little white lie, for the greater good." But where do we draw the line? A cop who lies about probable cause can just as easily lie about planting drugs in your car when he is bucking for that big promotion. Think that stuff doesn't happen? Think again. And it isn't just "thugs" who wind up with their rights violated folks, it is also soccer moms in grocery-go-getters like Caitlin Woody.
It is disconcerting how easily the public falls for such propaganda, but what I find most alarming is the willingness of these officers to violate their oath to the Constitution. The general public tends to be distracted, even ignorant when it comes to taking up these issues. The people who we trust to "do the right thing" though, those people, those officers know better. They know full well that what they are doing is a violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution. They might justify it to themselves in one way or another, but every last one of them knows full well what they are doing, and are responsible for their actions.