(MELBOURNE, Fla.) -- Traffic officers in Melbourne, Fla., discovered a unique way to spread some Christmas cheer -- doling out scratch-off lottery games instead of speeding tickets to motorists on Christmas Day. “In the spirit of the season here, most people expect to get a traffic ticket when they get stopped, in this case, they were surprised to get a scratch off ticket instead,” Sgt. Sheridan Shelley of the Melbourne Police Department told ABC News.
Melbourne police gave out at least 30 scratch-off tickets to traffic violators on Christmas Day, along with a warning to drive safely. “This was an idea that was generated by the officers who were working yesterday,” Shelley said. “This was money that came out of the pockets of the officers, this was just the officers doing a community service, teaching public safety and giving back to the community. They [the officers] went ahead and gave a scratch-off ticket to the driver, said, ‘happy holidays,’ and, ‘drive safely.’”
According to Shelley, the idea was to issue a warning to speeders, but also ensure that their experience with law enforcement was a positive one. He says his department has received varying reactions to the tickets.
“There have been some mixed reactions to it naturally, but we are not rewarding bad driving behavior, we are doing what we normally do, we are stopping it, trying to get the point across and making it memorable by surprising people with something other than a traffic ticket," he said.
It is not clear whether any of the distributed lotto games turned out to be winners, but Shelley warned that this was strictly a one-time deal from the Melbourne Police Department.
“I can tell you right now that no one is getting lottery tickets today,” Shelley said. “Hopefully nobody has it in their mind to speed and expect to receive a lotto ticket, that was a one shot deal for Christmas.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio