Armed with cash, cops play Santa

December 19, 2018

Men and women in uniform started handing out cash this week to deserving people thanks to an annual donation from an anonymous group.

It’s the fourth year in a row that the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson Police Department have received thousands of dollars to give out around Christmastime.

The donated cash has grown a little each year, and this December officers and deputies are giving out $24,900 to whomever they choose.

“It’s a group of community members, and their generosity is amazing,” Teton County Sheriff-elect Matt Carr said. “As law enforcement officers we don’t always see people at their best. This gives us an opportunity to build trust with the community by catching someone doing something good.”

On Tuesday morning officers of the Jackson Police Department bought $500 worth of breakfast for McDonald’s customers.

“It was a delight,” said customer (and News&Guide sports editor) Clark Forster, who was surprised to see uniformed officers serving breakfast burritos.

“We just took the money and went down there for half an hour, and two people worked the window and two worked the front counter and we let people order their meal, and when they went to get their money we told them, ‘the Jackson Police Department is buying your breakfast this morning,’” said Jackson police Sgt. Michelle Weber.

The total of almost $25,000 is split up among about two dozen patrol officers and deputies.

As they meet community members they look for those who are committing a good deed.

“It’s pretty awesome how generous people are,” Deputy Jesse Willcox said during a ridealong Monday.

As he drove up Old Pass Road, Willcox saw Julie Buchenroth and Margaret “Muggs” Schultz out for a walk.

“How are you guys today?” Willcox asked. “Just out for a little stroll? We’ve been provided some generous donations, and I want to share it with you, just for your efforts of getting out and enjoying the day,” he told them.

Schultz, an avid News&Guide reader, was familiar with the cash blitz from reading about it in past years and said she plans to pay it forward.

“I will find some little guys or gals who can use this,” Schultz said. “That’s very nice. I’ve never been pulled over on my feet.”

Officers or deputies said they’re trying to get more creative this year with how they share the money.

“We might find some community members who are choosing to work Christmas Day,” Carr said. “Because they’re working to provide services to the community that are much needed.”

Officers and deputies look forward to the tradition each year because it gives them an opportunity to have a positive interaction with members of the community they might never meet. The cash donors have always decided to remain anonymous.

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