Thousands of people in St. Louis and St. Louis County are a hundred dollars richer after police in both jurisdictions handed out $100 bills Tuesday as part of a one-day Secret Santa blitz.
Joseph Higgs from south St. Louis was one of the people who received the cash.
Higgs said that he has had more negative than positive experiences with police in the past so this experience has helped improve his opinion of law enforcement.
“What helps my opinion is how jovial they were in doing it,” Higgs said. “They were still professional, they were jovial, they were doing their job and they were doing it in a good way.”
St. Louis isn’t the first city to have police hand out cash instead of tickets. The practice actually started in Kansas City two weeks ago: an anonymous donor known only as “Secret Santa” gave the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department thousands of $100 bills to give out during traffic stops. Since then, reports of similar giveaways have come from Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Iowa.
And now St. Louis.
Higgs said that a patrol car blocked his van as he was trying to leave his house to take his children to the library. He got out his car to talk to the officers, and they told him “Merry Christmas” and handed him the money.
“I was so shocked that afterward I was thinking to myself, oh my goodness this was like a reverse bribe,” Higgs said. “Whereas you would bribe someone to do something illegal, this was like hey, take this money and keep being a good citizen.”
A spokeswoman for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said that the money for St. Louis’ Secret Santa project was donated by four anonymous families from St. Louis County who “were heartbroken over the recent events in our community and wanted to do something that could help bring our community together.”
The families raised $36,200 for officers to give away. The money was divided evenly between the county and city police departments.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.
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