PV police bringing Better Bucks program to Quad-Cities
Within the next six months, residents of Prescott Valley – and perhaps other parts of the Quad-city area – will be able to give legal currency to individuals seeking free handouts without worrying about how that money will be used, said Jason Kaufman with the Prescott Valley Police Department.
The currency, known as Better Bucks, is a trademark established by the Flagstaff Police Department (FPD) in partnership with the Shadows Foundation, a nonprofit based in Flagstaff.
The two organizations created Better Bucks in 2014 as a means of discouraging panhandling in Flagstaff by individuals who wish to use the cash they receive from donors to feed substance abuse problems, while at the same time remaining compassionate to those with legitimate needs, according to the Shadows Foundation website.
Better Bucks come in the form of $1 vouchers that are often sold in packs of five. The vouchers can be used at participating businesses to purchase non-alcoholic, non-tobacco related goods. Each voucher is printed on specially-marked paper – a safeguard for fraudulent copying – and contains a serial number, which allows them to be tracked.
Seeing the program’s success in Flagstaff, the Prescott Valley Police Department found the idea appealing and has been working with the FPD to bring Better Bucks to Prescott Valley.
“We want people to have the ability to buy food and necessary things for not only themselves, but also their families, without getting money from somebody and going out and buying drugs or alcohol with it,” Kaufman said.
If enough agencies and businesses agree to use the program, Kaufman believes it could be a great resource throughout the Quad-cities area. “Worst case scenario, we just get it rolling in Prescott Valley, but best case scenario, everybody’s on board in the Quad-city area and then you can use the vouchers anywhere,” Kaufman said. Jessi Hans, the executive director for the Coalition of Compassion and Justice in Prescott, is all for such a program.
“I’m excited about it, because it gives people who are a little leery of giving the ability to give with less hesitation,” Hans said. “The idea that ‘nothing bad can come from this, only good can come from it;’ it helps folks.”