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FOOD FROM THE FUZZ - only in Florida


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2018-02-27 06_54_43-Crestview police pizza giveaway raises questions.png

CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Police Department announced Tuesday it will roll out a program to offer pizza to safe drivers. The program originally involved pulling over drivers and offering a certificate for a free pizza. Following social media criticism, the department removed the traffic-stop component.

Food from the Fuzz, as the Police Department calls it, would offer a free pizza from Papa Murphy’s for motorists who officers observe following safe driving practices. They include wearing a seat belt, maintaining a safe driving distance and observing the speed limit.

People have shared the department’s Facebook post announcing the program more than 1,000 times. They also have left more than 800 comments, with some questioning the legality of the program.

According to a Police Department media release, officers would have been allowed to initiate a traffic stop if they observe a motorist meeting the criteria of a safe driver. Drivers who do not wish to participate in the program could then inform the officer they’re opting out.

“You are saying you will pull people over with no probable cause, but you will not release them or let them opt out of the program until their information is clear and the inside of their vehicle has been visually inspected,” TJ Taylor commented on the department’s Facebook post.

The media release said that if drivers opt out of the program, they would be allowed to leave “under most circumstances.”

“This is a completely consensual program,” Police Chief Tony Taylor said. “The first words out of the officer’s mouth will be, ‘Do you want to participate in this?’ If the answer is, ‘No,’ the driver is free to leave on the spot.”

T. Martin Knopes, a defense attorney based in Crestview, said the program might be problematic.

“I think they’re putting themselves in a sticky situation,” Knopes said. “What would be the basis for pulling you over?”

The Police Department release also said if a driver’s documentation obtained during the stop is not valid or the officer “notices openly visible unlawful behavior or materials,” the driver would be subject to “proper law enforcement action.”

One fear expressed on social media is the program being an excuse for police to make more traffic stops and catch drivers engaging in unlawful behavior without reasonable suspicion. Knopes said if a traffic stop is found to be unlawful, evidence obtained from that stop should not be admitted in court.


“We have a right to be free from government interference,” Knopes said. “I don’t care if you’re (going to) give me a pizza or a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris. Don’t bother me.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida expressed similar concerns on its Facebook page.

“To pull someone over, the police must have reason to believe that the driver has committed a traffic violation or that the driver or a passenger is involved in a crime,” the post said. “Without that, it violates the Fourth Amendment to pull someone over.”

Police spokesman Brian Hughes said the department is tweaking the program and possibly scrapping the idea. The department will send out a media release outlining any changes.

Community Services Officer Sam Kimmons pitched the idea after seeing news reports about other police departments running similar programs. The police department in Uniontown, Ohio, has run a holiday promotion for two years in which it gives $100 a day to a random motorist officers deem a safe driver during the Christmas season.

Crestview police said the pizza program was intended to give drivers an incentive to drove safely.

“There are always lots of complaints about the traffic situation here in Crestview,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to do something positive for good drivers.”

The program is voluntary, and most of the negative comments on social media came from people outside the area, according to police. There were comments that praised the Police Department and Officer Kimmons specifically.

“Love Sam and all of our Crestview police,” Jean Waite Blair commented. “Keep up the good work.”

For motorists who want to participate and are cleared as safe drivers, officers will give them a certificate for a “FAVES” pizza from Papa Murphy’s.

“If you don’t want to participate in the program, if everything checks out, you’re free to go,” Taylor said. “But who wants to pass up a free pizza?”

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