When Mike Tarnowski was driving down Kettleman Lane and saw a Lodi police motorcycle pull out behind him Tuesday morning, he didn't have to slow down.
"My wife said, 'Is that cop following you?' I said, 'Yeah, but I'm going the speed limit,'" the Lockeford resident said.
By obeying the 35 mph speed limit, Tarnowski earned himself a Safeway gift certificate, handed to him by Motor Officer Brian Freeman. Tarnowski and his wife, Kelly, laughed and he shook the officer's hand in thanks.
Tarnowski was one of 28 drivers who received gift cards or free Thanksgiving turkeys Tuesday during a police operation aimed at targeting speed enforcement from two opposite angles: Good drivers got prizes, while bad drivers got tickets.
The hope is that people will talk about their experiences, both good and bad, and thus spread the word about traffic safety, Freeman said.
One driver actually saw both sides of the deal. Freeman and Officer Larry Vietz stopped a 62-year-old woman for making an illegal turn. An hour later, Sgt. Chris Jacobson unknowingly stopped the same woman and gave her a gift certificate.
One well-behaving motorist was Ray Long, a Stockton resident who went with his wife to the Social Security Office in Lodi. He was surprised to see Freeman standing near his Toyota as he stepped out, but his free turkey voucher was welcome, and he planned to donate it to his church.
Not all drivers were rewarded, though. Moments after arriving at Kettleman Lane and Mills Avenue, Jacobson was off again, pulling over a motorist who was driving 48 mph in the 35 mph zone. That driver got a ticket.
"Most collisions are caused by speed, failure to yield and turning in front of someone," Jacobson said. "People get upset when we write them tickets for speeding, but day in and day out we see crashes caused by speed."
One driver had gotten wind of the operation and was surprised to be pulled over for speeding. The driver told Officer Erika Urrea, "I thought you guys were supposed to be nice to people today."
Tuesday's operation came three days before Black Friday, the day known for its mass amount of shoppers, who don't stop until Christmas.
Officers will increase enforcement because they typically see more tailgating and speeding near shopping areas, Freeman said. Additionally, he reminded drivers to pay attention at stoplights and make sure they can clear the intersection before moving into it.