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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Improving Images: "Pull over and Get Your $100"

“It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit 
within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel 
far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned 
to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”

--Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

So many wonderful gestures of kindness allow those less fortunate to enjoy Christmas. It is the time of giving, and in the true spirit of the season, gracious charities and philanthropists insure that Christmas can be special for those who are down on their luck.

What loving gestures accompany Christmas! Isn't is glorious to have people share their prosperity with others without any thought of reciprocity? More power to all of these generous souls ... or ... well ... to most.

It seems the West Virginia State Police troopers are faking traffic stops while pulling over motorists and giving them $100 bills.

Who is providing the money? Who knows? First Sgt. M.R. Crowder tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that Monday's giveaway was a Secret Santa project funded by an anonymous donor. The Princeton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police recently received an anonymous $1,000 donation with the stipulation that the money be doled out to individuals in the community one C-note at a time.

“He (the "Secret Santa") said he wasn’t rich, but he did have a little bit of money that he would like to give back into the community,” Crowder said.

“It’s actually a privilege today to give out $100 bills because when people deal with law enforcement, it’s not always happy smiles, it’s usually in a negative way. So it’s good to be able to provide some joy instead of negativity to these people,” Trooper D.C. Graham, also of the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment, said. 

Four troopers participated in the what the division is calling its "Santa Stops" program, one of several similar initiatives making headlines across the country and even in Canada. 

(Blake Stowers. "West Virginia State Troopers give $100 bills instead of tickets." 
Bluefield Daily Telegraph. December 23, 2014)

My Scrooge -ish Questions

I assume the donation was made by a citizen who felt confident that troopers were the perfect people to give away charity money to the community. And, by Trooper Graham's astute comments, I assume the West Virginia State Police felt confident that such a gesture on a traffic stop would improve their public image.

While this is all well and good, my questions have to do with the random selection of the recipients of the money and the motive for the gifts as it applies to the season. Some of the people who received the money may not really need it. And, a true gift should come with no strings of "image" attached.

I want to pose a couple of questions as I wonder if there might be a future improvement for Highway Secret Santas?

(1) If the troopers are chosen to be the ones distributing the charity, wouldn't it be possible for them to give selectively the $100 bills to those in their community deemed most needy?

(2) If enforcement are chosen to be the ones to distribute the $100 bills, wouldn't it be possible to simply deliver the $100 bills to the homes of these needy folks?

This seems almost a tit-for-tat method of sharing charity. The theme, as it presently stands is: "When it comes to pulling over motorists, the State giveth (to a lucky few) and the State taketh away (from the multitudes). Of course, had I been one of those lucky drivers receiving a $100 bill, I am sure I wouldn't be taking this perspective.

Oh hell, this isn't a "bribe" to make us like us policemen, but it is a nice, little, unqualified gesture of handing out money. And, having been the recent victim of a couple of speed traps in my community, I felt the same way when I got two tickets recently, one of which I contested only to witness a trooper lie in court. I "handed out" my "charity" money to the local coffers in the form of two fines.

Oh well, since my recent luck has branded me a frequent lawbreaker with a heavy foot on the gas pedal, I must admit to bias. So, just forget everything I said in this post. You ten lucky West Virginians, enjoy spending your money on a delicious Christmas dinner or whatever you please. You troopers, keep handing out cash to unsuspecting motorists. And,meanwhile, I will continue to try to obey the speed limits.

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