Dubuque woman starts reward program to change neighborhood’s reputation

By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV9

DUBUQUE — A Dubuque woman is sick of hearing about bad things happening in her neighborhood. So, she’s rewarding kids for doing good things.

Dubuque Police say they have responded to some highly publicized crimes in the Comiskey Park area this year. But police say there isn’t as much crime as some people think.

Jennifer Cooper says running an in-home day care near Comiskey Park comes with a certain stigma.

Cooper said, “Everybody says ‘oh Comiskey Park is so bad. I would never go down on Jackson Street or Washington Street.’”

This is the neighborhood Cooper has called home for more than 20 years. In order to make some change, she started a neighborhood reward program called; Respect others, Achieve Rewards.

Cooper said, “I took $100 of my own money and the police chief matched it, and another person matched it. So I had $300 to work with.”

Cooper bought gift certificates and gave them to the Dubuque Police Department. Officers hand them out when they catch a kid doing something good.

Corporal Jason Pace said, “Maybe just as simple as wearing a bike helmet while riding their bike. Using the crosswalk instead of crossing in the middle of the street and picking up trash if you see somebody left it on the ground. It is small things like that is what we’re looking for.”

Kids can use the one dollar gift certificate at Kwik Stop Stores and Dairy Queens. Cooper thinks this little reward will add up to a big change.

“Positive rewards are going to make them more positive and eventually you don’t have to reward them, they just do it,” said Cooper.

And those positive rewards, she says, start in her own backyard.

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