So apparently the Houston Police Department is spreading a little green around the community this holiday season, and no, unfortunately, we do not mean weed. But what they're handing out is almost as good, because, well, it's cold, hard cash.
HPD announced yesterday that groups of officers are pulling over random Houstonians for little offenses -- a broken taillight or an expired inspection sticker -- and rather than handing them a ticket, they're handing them $100.
Yeah, we thought so too. But apparently it's a thing that's happening all around the city at this very moment, and while we are indeed perplexed, we won't knock it too much because it really could be worse.
The money being handed out to these random motorists was donated to HPD by what they call a "Secret Santa," who handed over $10,000 to the police department so they could help those "most in need" during this Christmas season.
And to HPD, "most in need" apparently means motorists with broken headlights, taillights or expired inspections. So the plan is for HPD officers to little by little distribute all $10,000 to motorists with minor traffic infractions, who can then use the cash however they want to.
While we're definitely stoked that some motorists are getting off with a warning (and some cash, to boot), we have to admit that the whole premise of using a large donation to play Secret Santa during traffic stops is kind of perplexing.
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The department has been videotaping some of the interactions with motorists -- presumably not with those body cameras the department's set to get more of next year -- and they've been releasing the footage on the department's YouTube channel. From the looks of it, people on the receiving end of that Secret Santa donation seem not only delighted but confused as hell. And sometimes straight up terrified.
Well, we're not entirely sure that the private donor expected the money -- presumably meant for those in dire circumstances this holiday season -- to go to such a smooth publicity move from the boys in blue, but at least the money is ultimately going to Houston residents in need of something (again, things like a taillight bulb, driving lessons or whatever).
So if you see some flashing lights behind you over the next few days, maybe don't panic until officers pass a ticket, and not money, through your window.
Happy holidays, y'all. May your flashing lights come bearing money meant for the needy, and not those pesky tickets this holiday season.