Chesapeake police officers surprise drivers with turkeys instead of tickets


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — You know that feeling when you see police lights in your rearview mirror. There’s that pit in your stomach, because that officer behind you may be ready to write you a ticket.

Chesapeake police Officer Kenneth Byrd is part of the Chesapeake Police Traffic Team and one of those you may see out and about. It’s his job to make sure drivers are obeying the rules of the road.

“No two days are the same,” said Byrd.

Byrd knows a little something when it comes to driving infractions.

“I’m the guy that nobody likes,” Byrd said with a chuckle. “I know that it’s part of my duty and it’s a necessary evil, unfortunately.”

But Friday on patrol was anything but routine. Byrd was giving unsuspecting drivers a special surprise instead of a ticket.

“My goal in, going out is not to ruin somebody’s day,” Byrd added.

Byrd let 10 On Your Side tag along as he zeroed in on unsuspecting drivers.

“We will go for her,” Byrd said after seeing a driver going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone along Liberty Avenue.

As Byrd approached the car, the driver apologized.

“35 is a little fast, but I think a turkey may thaw faster,” Byrd told the driver. “Will you slow down for me if I gave you this turkey?”

The driver left with the turkey and a promise to Byrd to go slower.

For the past five years, Chesapeake officers have handed out turkeys instead of tickets during the holiday season. The turkeys are donated by the Chesapeake Jubilee Committee staff.

“Those are the type of folks that make the job worthwhile,” Byrd said.

Back on the road Friday, Byrd caught another driver who flew through a red light.

“I stopped you because you ran the red light,” Byrd told them.

The driver, like the other one who sped through a 25 mph zone, apologized.

“I tried to make the yellow,” she told Byrd.

Still, the decision was easy for Byrd.

“She’s nicer than the last one,” Byrd told 10 On Your Side’s Jason Marks.

That meant another trip to the cruiser’s trunk and another driver caught off guard.

“Do you have a refrigerator at work you can put this in?” Byrd asked the driver. “It wasn’t the worst read light in the world, but you ran it. Instead of me giving you a ticket to take home, how about I have a turkey for Christmas? Is that good?”

The driver was overwhelmed by the kindness. It was exactly the type of reaction police were hoping for.

“It was like a miniature Christmas present early for people to be that happy,” Byrd said.

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