Police in Tempe, Ariz., have taken a different approach to law enforcement: In addition to ticketing people who break the law, they are rewarding those who follow it, with coupons for free soft drinks or snacks.
The program hasn’t been problem-free -- there was an initial backlash from people who argued that getting approached by a cop can be a stressful experience, even if it turns out you’re being rewarded rather than punished -- but the goal of positive policing is the right one.
Critics of a similar program in Halifax, Va., a few years ago pointed out that the mere act of pulling over drivers without cause, even it was to hand them ice cream cones, was a violation of the 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
To avoid that concern, the Tempe program doesn’t involve pulling over drivers. It’s focused instead on cops’ casual interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.
If the goal of the police-reform movement is to make policing more positive and community oriented, a free soft drink is as good a place as any to start.