ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A North St. Louis County police officer is going well above his duty to protect and serve. He's using his position to give back and bridge the gap between people and the police.
Officer Ed Schlueter calls it compassion in his pocket. He keeps gift cards close to give away to people he feels may be down on their luck.
It started with just a fun give-away contest during the holidays.
Officer Schlueter took pictures of Christmas lights during his nights on patrol. He posted them on his public Facebook page, asking people in the community to vote for their favorite.
The winner would get two large pizzas from Dominos, paid for out of his own pocket.
“Dominos found out, intervened and they wouldn't allow me to pay for those pizzas,” said Schlueter.
To his surprise, Dominos gave him gift certificates to hand out.
“And then the homeowner of the winning house, he wouldn't let me help him out either so in fact he gave me $100 bill and said hand it out with the community,” Schlueter added.
With the money, he bought more gift cards to gas stations and grocery stores in $5 and $10 increments.
Once he ran out, he used his own money to buy more.
“I found so many people who could use either a pick me up or they actually just needed the money to get to work and back,” said Schlueter.
People across the country found out about his gift card deeds from his Facebook posts and started mailing him gift cards and money to keep it up.
Recently he was even given a blank check for his cause, which he quickly found a way to use.
“The same day someone had a really heartwarming story about how they needed something more than a gift card,” Schlueter said. “They needed a tire for their car.”
Officer Schlueter bought the tire. It’s sitting in the bed of his truck, ready to be delivered.
So far, he’s received more than $2,000 worth of gift cards which he's now giving to other officers in the North County and Ferguson region.
It’s something his department is 100 percent behind because it’s not only helping build positive relations with police and the community, it’s also providing a way for the community to pay it forward.
“I'm having a lot of fun,” said Officer Schlueter. “Just keep spreading the compassion.”
Schlueter said sometimes he's given out gift cards to people he's written tickets to like one woman who he ticketed for driving without registration. Once he noticed she was driving on empty, he handed her a gift card to fill her tank.
Anyone who’d like to help can mail their contributions to:
St. Louis County Police Department
Attn: Officer Ed Schlueter
7900 Forsyth Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63105