LONG BEACH — Dawn Kuper did nothing special, or so she thought, to merit the attention of the police.
Officer Brian Potter saw it differently. Mounted on his motorcycle, he drove up to Kuper's red sports car and signaled her to pull over.
Potter then handed Kuper a citation--redeemable for a 12-pound frozen, Grade A, hen turkey. "She got a great big smile on her face" and she sighed, Potter said.
Kuper was the second recipient of a "turkey citation," which police are giving to courteous and safe drivers, pedestrians and cyclists during the next three weeks.
"I thought I was going to get a ticket. I really did," the 20-year-old Long Beach woman said.
Kuper won her free turkey for stopping her car at a busy downtown intersection by the courthouse, so that a woman could cross the street Friday. "I just let a lady cross the crosswalk, which I thought was the law," Kuper said.
Most drivers ignore the crosswalk on Magnolia Avenue, and Potter said he waited an hour and 15 minutes for a courteous driver to stop for pedestrians. "I could have written a good number of tickets while waiting there," Potter said.
Officer Peter Burcombe had a similar experience at the same intersection before finding the first free-turkey recipient, Thomas Ramirez of Moreno Valley. "The majority of the people just disregard (the crosswalk), and people almost have to flag them down to stop," Burcombe said.
Cmdr. Charles Parks, who came up with the idea of giving away 100 free birds, said that so far it has not been easy for officers to find safe and courteous drivers. And pedestrians are no saints either, he said.
"Sometimes, pedestrians, because they are pedestrians, step in front of a car in a very arrogant manner," almost as if saying "hit me," Parks said.
The program aims to reward people who obey the law and go out of their way for others without endangering anyone, police said.
Kuper said she and her husband, who is in the Navy, plan to cook the free turkey for Christmas. "I think this is really nice," she said. "A lot of times, you don't get a pat on the back when you do good things."