Crestview, FL — In an unprecedented violation of the right of citizens to be free from unlawful search and seizure, the Crestview Police Department in Florida has announced a most insidious program. Driving safely is now a reason for cops to pull you over—under the guise that you'll be "offered free pizza."
"A free Papa Murphy’s “FAVES” pizza awaits Crestview motorists who drive safely and courteously and get caught in the act," reads the announcement on the department's Facebook page.
“Under this program, Crestview Police officers may initiate a traffic stop based upon observed safe operation of a motor vehicle,” Community Services Officer Sam Kimmons said.
While the Free Thought Project has reported on programs where cops randomly pull people over to give them free stuff, this program crosses a line others did not by conducting an actual traffic stop.
“We’re going to reward you for good driving,” Police Chief Tony Taylor said. “It’s as simple as that.”
But it is not "as simple as that." Pulling people over for driving safely is a direct violation of the 4th Amendment. And this department is not just giving people pizza, they are conducting actual traffic stops.
Under the program, officers have standardized criteria to look for. Examples of safe operation Ofc. Kimmons cites include “using hands-free devices or having children properly buckled up.” Others include using a seat belt, maintaining a safe following distance, courteous driving, proper use of turn signals, and observing the speed limit.
Here is where the program takes a turn for the worse. Safe drivers will only get the "reward" if they allow their rights to be violated and further submit to the illegal stop. Drivers who flex their rights get nothing, or worse.
When stopped for safe operation of their vehicles, drivers are offered the opportunity to opt out of the program and are immediately allowed to leave under most circumstances. If they wish to participate, the officer will ask for the driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
If all the documentation checks out, the officer will present the driver with a certificate for a free Papa Murphy’s “FAVES” pizza, redeemable at their Crestview location, 2670 Ferdon Blvd. S. (Not the Mini Murph Offc. Kimmons displays in the photo.)
See how they did that? Notice how they said, "under most circumstances," meaning if they find anything when they walk up to your vehicle during the unlawful stop, you're screwed—4th amendment be damned.
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Only if the illegal stop, illegal detention, relinquishing of rights, and citizen submission all work out in your favor, then, and only then, will you get some coupon for a pizza. But, if they find one thing wrong, their illegal traffic stop just found a way to circumvent the 4th amendment.
However, if the documentation isn’t in order, or if the officer notices openly visible unlawful behavior or materials, such as DUI impairment, drug paraphernalia, narcotics or open alcoholic beverage containers, “proper law enforcement action will be taken,” Ofc. Kimmons said.
In order for police to initiate a traffic stop, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that articulable facts indicate there is a crime being committed or about to be committed.
Safe driving is not reasonable suspicion and offering pizza coupons does not change this fact.
Luckily, however, people on Facebook are seeing right through it. There are hundreds of comments on the post and only a handful of people who actually support the program.
"I'm all for giving back to the community, but this is a horrible idea. Now you can literally pull anyone over for absolutely no reason, in the silent hopes you find something. Keep your pizza and save me the time and anxiety attack of being pulled over," Jessica Roan wrote.
"You are pulling people over for abiding by the law....isnt it illegal to pull people over if they are not doing anything wrong? Pull me over for being a law abiding citizen and I will sue your ass," writes Liz Stewart. "Go feed homeless people and stop harassing citizens."
In one exchange on the post, the typical police apologist reaction of "if you don't do anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about," was presented and that person received the most epic reply pointing out that it is the police who are breaking the law.
Judging from the reaction to this program the police department would do well to scrap it. If they do not, taxpayers of Crestview be warned: you are setting yourselves up to be fleeced in the countless lawsuits that are sure to follow.