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‘I’m Speechless’: Alton residents receive gift cards in place of traffic citations

For the fifth year in a row, the Alton Police Department gave gift cards in place of citations to community members who committed traffic violations. The Alton PD launched the Annual Gift Cards in Lieu of Citations initiative Wednesday morning.

Alton PD Investigator Eric Flores stands with Ocari Ramos after gifting her coupons on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. Photo By Maria Ruiz

Alton Assistant City Manager and Police Chief Jonathan Flores invited the press to participate in a ride-along with officers throughout the day.

“We’ve been doing this program since 2018,” Flores proudly stated. “Something we want to do, especially during the holidays, is help spread some holiday cheer in our community.”

Investigator Eric Flores, who has been with the Alton PD for two years, was one of several officers out on patrol and stopping vehicles for minor traffic violations.

“It feels good…It makes them happy,” said Investigator Flores. “The Alton Police Department is helping someone out that might not have anything for this holiday coming up.”

He continued.

“Also, no one wants a citation. Especially during this time of the year.”

The Investigator stopped nearly 15 vehicles within the main city road and surrounding neighborhood streets for minor infractions, giving those he stopped gift cards to local food chains such as Stars and Golden Chick.

Eddie Solis Suarez grabs a coupon offered to him by Alton PD Investigator Eric Flores on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. Photo By Maria Ruiz

Eddie Solis Suarez, an Alton resident who works in the bodega selling oranges and citrus, said he felt nervous when first being pulled over.

“I felt bad at first, but now I feel good [after receiving the gift card],” Solis said.

Another Alton resident, Jacob Garcia, was pulled over for an expired license plate.

“I got kind of nervous because I knew that my license plate was expired,” Garcia said, explaining he was waiting for the next paycheck to get it renewed.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Garcia said when receiving the gift card. “I’m glad.”

Stay-at-home mom Ocari Ramos’ fear was subdued when she received two gift cards for a free plate from Taco Kissi.

“I’ve never had problems with the law. This is my first time,” said Ramos. “I feel excited,” she said after receiving the coupons. “And I appreciate it so much.”

Ohio resident Makayla Waltz Suarez was stopped by Eric while visiting her father in Alton.

“This is actually the first time I’m driving in Texas since I’ve come to visit my dad,” said Suarez, mentioning she felt a little concerned.

After receiving her gift cards for Golden Chick, Suarez was speechless.

“That’s even more unexpected than being pulled over. I’m incredibly grateful,” Suarez said.

Chief Flores stated that the Annual Gift Cards in Lieu of Citations initiative continues to be an act of service to the community.

“We want to take these opportunities, especially during the holiday season, to show gratitude to our community and help alleviate some of that holiday stress,” said Jonathan. “We want to make sure we do our part to let them know that we’re here to serve them and that we appreciate them.”


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