- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Sioux Falls police are returning about 300 gift cards donated by area churches due to ethics concerns.

The gift cards for local eateries and coffee shops flowed in as a show of support for law enforcement after five Dallas police officers were killed and seven others wounded last month in a shooting during a protest over recent killings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“It was what we thought was a pretty simple gesture to try and encourage some of our local officers,” said Rich Merkouris, senior pastor at King of Glory church.

Sioux Falls’ ethics board this week recommended the gift cards be returned, due to a city ordinance that blocks city workers from accepting most gifts, the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/2aUUjAF ). Board Vice Chairman Jack Marsh said that police accepting the cards could open the door to gifts from groups with agendas.

“I think we are really opening up a can of worms here if we decide we are going to allow this,” he said.

Police Chief Galen Smidt said the gift cards will be returned, though he added, “we certainly appreciate the gesture.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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