The fear of a traffic ticket turned into the joy of Christmas Wednesday. Thanks to a Shelby County Sheriff’s office tradition called Operation Blue Christmas. Deputies stopped drivers and volunteers would show up at the scene with Christmas gifts for their children. Local 24’s Mike Matthews says the reward comes with two simple words: Merry Christmas.
This is something they do every year at Christmas. They pull people over and what they expect is the worst. What they get is the best.
“We’re not all bad,” says Deputy John Shields of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. “We like to help. We like to give back. That’s exactly what we want to do.”
“Sure, we enforce the law. And we’re going to continue to enforce the law in Shelby County,” says Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. “But when we can, bring a smile to people’s faces and just help them out during this time of year with Christmas.”
The plan is simple. At the Target in Cordova, Deputy Shields looks for vehicles that might have a mom or kids inside, a vehicle that appears to be from a family that might be struggling financially. Then they go to work.
“You know why I’m stopping you?” Deputy Shields asked one driver. “No,” was the answer.
“Not wearing seatbelts. You have a driver’s license and proof of insurance?” asked Shields.
“We just had a wreck this morning, in the truck. It was like, well it has to be the bumper. He was like, no, it’s the window tint and you didn’t have a seat belt on. So I started ripping the window tint off right there,” says Dennis Smith of Southaven.
Deputy Shields starts talking to the driver about Christmas, about whether he has family, how tough will be to afford gifts this year. Inside, members of the Secret Order of Boll Weevils are ready to run down the aisles of Target to get gifts.
“We’re checking out on register 14. We’re going to have radios inside and radios outside. We’ll have Target helping us to pick out the presents,” says Todd Brown of the Secret Order Of Boll Weevils.
So as these guys were waiting for a ticket, what they got instead was Christmas.
“He blessed us,” says Smith.”
“We were just going to pick up some supplies from work and got pulled over, and I didn’t know what was going on,” says Hashim Alsaffer. “The last thing I was going to expect was getting gifts. I was just hoping not to get a ticket to be honest with you. I’m just ecstatic.”
It was an emotional rollercoaster for Gabriel Cole of Memphis. “I just knew I was going to go to jail. I don’t know why. I was just nervous. I’m not good with sheriffs and police.”
Gabriel learned Santa Claus lives in the soul of many people. Even those she sometimes feared.
If you have had trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas, you would have found it in this parking lot in Cordova.
It changes the opinions some have of law enforcement, when they realize the people of law have blood pumping through their veins, and a heart, and feelings and a soul. They just want to help people have a Merry Christmas.