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Secret Santa surprises Detroiters with cash

Posted at 9:55 AM, Dec 23, 2015

Getting pulled over by the cops is never fun. The flashing lights. Sometimes the siren. That weird feeling you get deep down in your gut that makes it all hard to deal with.

This time of the year when many of our neighbors are struggling financially, a traffic stop can be one thing you don’t anticipate let alone appreciate.

But, imagine getting pulled over and the officer who initiates the stop is none other than Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

And what happens when you pair a Police Chief who is crazy about his community and make him a secret santa who hands over wads of cash? The reality is... an emotional rollercoaster.

“Well I have some gift cards from Kroger’s,” Chief Craig told our Nima Sahffe.

“These are remaining. $50 a piece. Certainly we have some hundred dollar bills and some 50 dollar bills.”

Only Action News cameras were allowed along for this one of a kind ride-along. It started with a stop along East Jefferson just outside of downtown.

Inside the car, Action News photojournalist Jeremy Johnson capturing the Chief’s comments before and after each stop.

Before we knew it, it was time for our first stop. “I want to make a pedestrian stop,” Chief James Craig said.

The woman we stop was just walking down the street as we approached. The squawk of a siren. The flashing patrol lights shining bright. The look on her face, priceless.

As Chief Craig jumped out of the car so did our cameras. “We want to give you a little blessing. Are you cooking?” He asks the woman. “My mama probably is,” Ashley said. “Here you go. I want to give you a little blessing and a gift card so you can prepare that holiday meal.”

She was stopped because she appeared to be “walking without joy.” That in Detroit during the holidays will get you stopped.

As we cruised down East Jefferson we noticed a tan Chevy venture in need of a little pick-me-up. Off went the lights then the sirens. The car quickly pulled over. Inside the car – a father, his daughter and his two grandkids. The man’s daughter was behind the wheel.

“You know why we stopped you? I have to tell you when we drove by you looked like you didn’t have a lot of joy,” Chief Craig told the man and his daughter.

At first she didn’t want to be on camera but that quickly changed as did her luck. First a $50 Kroger gift card. Then came a $50 bill. Then as Chief learned the man’s grandkids were in the backseat he forked over another $50 bill.

As the day went on we ran into more and more people walking along and more drivers in need.

One stop, the lobby at Children’s Hospital. The reactions there, priceless.

Coming up on Action News Friday at 6 and tonight at 11, Nima Shaffe will be joined by Action News Photojournalist’s Jeremy Johnson and Johnny Sartin capturing the moments the Chief pulls people over for “driving without joy.”

Check the gallery out. We have some iPhone video too that Nima shot while doing the ride along.

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