• Dec 16th 2011 at 2:00PM
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Drivers in Prosper, TX may not need to suffer that sinking feeling when a cop approaches their car: the North Texas police department has been doling out $10 gift cards this week to recognize good driving, NBC-DFW reports.

It's a classic carrot or stick scenario: the police department has chosen to reward drivers for proper seat belt use or observation of the speed limit, instead of just punishing drivers for transgressions. The police officers on foot have infiltrated school parking lots or other pick-up/drop-off zones where they can safely communicate with cars that are moving at slow speeds.

Officers have made haste to convey their benevolent purpose so as not to startle drivers or cause any unnecessary distress.

"We wanted to give back to the community to reinforce those safe driving habits," Prosper assistant police chief Gary McHone told AOL Autos.

It's also good PR and outreach for the police department, which can get a bad rap as a punishment-only organization waiting for us in speed-traps.

"The officer is just letting the drivers know they did a good job and here is a small token of thanks," McHone said. "It allows for a face-to-face with local residents."

During pre-holiday time from Dec. 12 to Dec. 16, the police department wanted to take the opportunity to give back to the community and funded the 60 American Bank of Texas check cards through its contribution fund and money raised at community events.

Even during the economic recession where local municipalities are cash-strapped, the Prosper PD saw value in this new program.

"The old adage of 'protecting and serving'--it's a highly used phrase, but this is an opportunity for us to put a different twist to the 'serving' part of it," McHone said.

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