Sterlington Police surprise drivers during this year's "Santa Stops"

STERLINGTON, La. (KNOE) - Getting pulled over isn't usually a good feeling... but the Sterlington Police Department is doing something to change that this Christmas, and traffic stops have never meant so much to Chief Barry Bonner.

Courtesy: KNOE

"All of them have been very heartwarming and sincere. A couple of them even seemed like they were brought to tears," says Bonner.

Bonner is talking about happy tears, though. He and his team spent the day rewarding unsuspecting drivers with $100 bills. It's an effort they call "Santa Stops".

"This is the best feeling I've ever had being pulled over by a cop for sure," says Laura Beth Moore, who Bonner pulled over during the "Santa Stops". "Usually I'm in tears because I've gotten a ticket."

The drivers' thrilled reactions are the reason Bonner and the Sterlington Police Department got into the Christmas season.

"It seems like everybody is not only thankful for the money, but they're also thankful for the job they know we're out here doing," says Bonner.

With so much heartache, including the loss of one of the department's own this year, Sgt. David Elahi, they need the smiles.

"[Bonner] does a great job, and he's one of the main reasons I moved out here," says Kimberly Sant, another driver surprised by the "Santa Stops".

The money came from donations to Sterlington P.D.'s organization, the Keep Kids Safe Campaign. Bonner says the money is used to help others, and this Christmas they are able to give away $1,500.

"I want to thank the police department for all they do," says Moore. "I'm a nurse at the St. Francis E.R., and we love and appreciate our policemen."

The Sterlington Police Department hopes to continue the "Santa Stops" next year by being able to raise the amount given to at least $2,000.