Confusion and angry social media posts were sparked Monday by a local news report from Arizona that claimed police would be pulling individuals over and giving them tickets not for breaking traffic law, but to reward them for following the law.

A morning segment for Arizona NBC affiliate 12 News
reported that police would be “pulling people over who are following traffic laws” and giving them coupon tickets for a free drink at Circle K as part of a campaign to promote good driving.

Some people reacting to the report on social media were upset with the idea that police might stop innocent civilians for doing nothing wrong.

Journalists commenting on the story noted it would potentially be illegal for police to pull over people who weren’t suspected of committing a crime or traffic violation.

Responding to the budding controversy, the Tempe Police Department clarified that cops “will not be proactively stopping vehicles, bicycles, scooters or pedestrians.”

Speaking to 12 News, Tempe Police Det. Greg Bacon further clarified that officers won’t pull over drivers, but will look for opportunities to engage with citizens about traffic laws.

“We will be having positive conversations with citizens, say an officer happens to stop somewhere and see somebody, and says ‘Hey would you mind having a conversation with me?’ (to) educate them on bicycle laws and traffic laws,” Bacon said.

12 News reporter Colleen Sikora posted the police department’s original press release, showing that it wasn’t clear Tempe police would not be pulling people over.

So drivers won’t actually be pulled over and handed “tickets” for good driving. But were handing out a few free drinks at Circle K to promote good driving worth all this confusion? The best reward for citizens who follow the law might be for the government to leave them alone.

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