Escondido police spread cheer to community

Posted at 11:43 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 02:43:06-05

The only thing worse than seeing flashing lights in your rearview mirror and getting pulled over by police - are flashing lights and getting pulled over right before Christmas.

But as one woman will tell you, there's a Secret Santa in Escondido and getting pulled over was a blessing among her struggles.

"Really when we show up its bad news or tragedy and really no one is looking forward to the police showing up,” said Escondido Police Department Sergeant Craig Miller.

But this time of year things are a little different, because they're not just handing out tickets, they're also handing out Benjamins. $100 cash.

"I've talked to a lot of my officers who say this part of the job is the best thing they've ever done,” he said.

It happened to Donna Todd last week. Her 1999 Dodge Durango was a prime target for Sergeant Miller - who said it was very apparent that she had a rough year and was struggling.

Her back window is shattered, the tires are wearing out and her registration recently expired. It's been a rough year.

"I just thought, I'm in trouble and my life is over,” Todd said. "And then he pulled a $100 bill out."

But Sergeant Miller didn't realize what a relief this was for Donna until someone showed him her Facebook post. Her son died this year and right now, nothing in life seems to be going right. She works hard but struggles to put food on the table for her family.

"Ever since my son passed away I just feel like there's just that much more for me and... I'm glad I was at the right place at the right time."

So if you see flashing lights in Escondido. Don't panic, it could be a good thing.

The program started three years ago with a single anonymous donor.  There are now numerous donors through the escondido charitable foundation spreading holiday cheer.