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Officers in Oceanside handing out cash instead of tickets

The Oceanside Police Department was given $20,000 from an Oceanside resident to randomly give out to people across the city throughout the year.

SAN DIEGO — For most of us, interactions with police usually aren't a good thing. Either we've been in an accident, the victim of a crime, or we're getting a ticket.

But in Oceanside, meeting an officer can not only be a positive experience, but also profitable.

“So, how much money do you think you're going to spend today?” Oceanside Police Officer T.J. Dunn asked Sandy Hughes, as she was shopping at the Walmart neighborhood market on Mission Avenue.

“More than I want to!” she replied with a laugh.

Hughes is in the middle of moving because her rent just went up again, but this quick trip to the grocery store is about to move her to smile.

“I'm going to give you $100 in cash,” said Officer Dunn, as he handed her an envelope.

“Oh my gosh!” she said with a stunned look.

It's called the Random Acts of Kindness Project. The Oceanside Police Department was given $20,000 from an Oceanside resident to randomly give out to people across the city throughout the year to help make ends meet.

For the department, it’s a great opportunity to meet members of the community in a much more relaxed environment.

“Most of the time when people call the police, it's not under the greatest circumstances,” said Jennifer Atenza, the Department’s Public Information Officer. “It's when something bad has happened, there's an emergency, there's trauma involved. So, this affords us the opportunity to make connections under positive circumstances.”

Last month, Oceanside officers visited gas stations along their regular beat to help people with spiking gas prices. They handed out several envelopes with $50 inside.

“When the prices of gas skyrocketed, that became an obvious choice to go out and help people out at the gas pumps,” said Atenza.

On Wednesday, Officers Dunn and Charles Dabney surprised four shoppers at the Walmart neighborhood market. This store is also in the area where they regularly patrol, so it's giving them an opportunity to meet people in a friendly environment.

Several of those receiving the money asked if they could give the officers a hug.

Atenza says officers throughout the city will be stopping at other grocery stores soon, and at different times throughout the day, so more people will have a chance to receive the random acts of kindness.

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