A law enforcement officer has impacted your life and you are wondering, is it appropriate to give a police officer a gift? Well, the answer is both yes and no. Technically police officers are not allowed to accept gifts from the public, (It can be considered bribery, yikes!) and many officers will say that a verbal thank you is enough of a gift to show your appreciation. But sometimes this just does not seem to do justice for the effort and sacrifice an officer makes on the thin blue line. In these cases, it’s important to know how to give a police officer a gift in an appropriate and lawful manner.
How to give a police officer a gift
Follow the rules
First and foremost, if you are giving a police officer a gift, you should follow the rules! Goodness knows they don’t need to get into any trouble over a gift. A gift of small value that you can prove comes with “no strings attached” may be acceptable if you get permission from the police chief first. Most important is to check with your local department’s policies before taking any action. You don’t want an uncomfortable situation for yourself or the officer when you are just trying to show your appreciation 🙂
Don’t just give a card or gift without expressing what the officer did that inspired you. Maybe he personally helped you or your family, maybe you saw him go out of his way to perform a good deed, or maybe you see new strides being made in your community from the entire department. Whatever it is, write a clear description of the incident or service you are thanking the officer/department for and include it in a letter with your gift.
Since individual gifts of monetary value are not typically allowed, and since it may be too expensive to take the entire department out for pizza, it’s time to get creative! What unique and meaningful ways can you show an officer your appreciation? Some ideas to get you started are listed below.
Small Appreciation Gift Ideas for your Local Police
Gifts for your favorite police officer
Token of appreciation
With permission from the police department, you may be able to give a small token of appreciation. This could be anything from a gift card for a cup of coffee to a police officer pen or notebook. Make sure everything from the value of the gift to the brand of the item is approved so it can be given appropriately and the officer can enjoy it without questions!
Donation in officer’s name
An easy way to get around the no-gift rule is to not give the officer anything at all. Instead, find out his favorite police charity and make a donation in his honor. If there is a police foundation directly supporting your local department, then make the donation there. Just make sure the charitable gift is given in appreciation of the officer, so the police department can appreciate his good works, too.
Write a letter to the police chief
If you want to know how to give a police officer a gift that could affect him personally, write a letter to his superiors, like the department supervisor or chief of police. Share as many details you can of the incident, how it impacted you, and how thankful you are for the officer’s service. It will guarantee public acknowledgement of the officer by his superior at the least, and at best it will be remembered when it comes time for promotions and awards.
Gifts for the entire police department
You may find it easier to give a gift to the entire police department while naming the specific officer that inspired your gesture. Other times it may actually be the entire police department that you want to thank! Either way here are some creative ways to do it.
Piece of art
If you are skilled in drawing, painting, or poetry, you can use your talents to create a masterpiece for their station. Design a painting or create a poem to appreciate the officers and give it to the police chief to display in the station.
Unfortunately, those homemade goodies you want to offer may not get eaten. Safety comes first even at the police station. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give packaged food items that can’t be tampered with! – a much safer bet for police officers. Especially on special holidays like Halloween, Easter, or Christmas when many prepackaged items are available and common as tokens of appreciation.
Pro tip: Police officers love gift baskets!
Get your friends together and take to the sidewalks! Again, with permission, decorate the walkways surrounding the building or the sidewalks in your city/town square. Boast about the great work the police department is doing with appreciation for all to see.
Community letter drive
A great way to thank a local police department is to get the whole community involved. Hold a letter drive in your community to collect as many thank you cards as you can to deliver to the entire department. Photos of neighbors holding signs of appreciation or other creative displays would also add a personal touch.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your police officer gift!
Now that you know how to give a police officer a gift, it’s time to start putting it into action! While it may take some more effort to get permission, plan accordingly, or get others involved, think about what they put into their work each and every day. Plus, we are sure the extra effort will make the officers feel that much more special, too. I’m sure you will agree with us when we say they deserve it :).
What other ways can you think of to give gifts for police departments or your favorite officer?