By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
According to NBC News, a police department in Farmington, New Hampshire is doing things a bit differently these days — rewarding good behavior with gift cards for pizza and french fries. Not all good behavior, however, only behaviors that are easy to avoid such as using turn signals properly, and using crosswalks instead of jay walking.
The police chief got the idea after watching a man struggle through heavy snow just to make it to the crosswalk. He said “I said to myself, that gentlemen deserves a medal for battling the snow that we’ve had.” After that, the police department partnered with a local restaurant to give out gift certificates when they catch people being good.
No data yet exist on the crime-reducing effects of the program. Moreover, in order to say the gift certificates function as reinforcers for good behavior, one would have to track particular individuals over time — a cumbersome task. Nevertheless, another benefit of the program is that it gives police an opportunity to connect with a larger segment of the population in a positive way. Usually, the police see “10 percent of the people 90 percent of the time” referring to repeat offenders responsible for the majority crimes in the town.
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com. Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues. He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at email@example.com.