This report from the Seattle Times introduces a new solution to the old problem of bank robbery: be nice. Apparently, bank personnel who identify a suspicious character (often based on dress alone, especially dress that obscures identity) can head off a potential heist by being aggressively nice and corralling the questionable person in a “customer service on steroids” scenario. The report focuses on treating would-be robbers nicely, but the key factor in my view is simply having multiple people interact with the culprit before the fact (in the event of an actual robbery) who would presumably then be able to make a positive identification after the fact. Still, it appears to be effective at reducing the incidence of bank robbery in Seattle, which is for unexplained reasons unusually high.
I rather like the idle of using positive reinforcement and subtle behavior modification to thwart crime. It also makes me wonder whether a foreign policy of “aggressive diplomacy” might better serve our objectives than the gunboat diplomacy currently in use. The obvious difference in scale between individual crime and crises among nation-states might tend to make such a comparison nonsensical, but I still wonder if involving other nations in overwhelmingly nice endeavors (or a simple observation “we can see what you’re doing and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves”) would effect any change in the way despots and terrorists operate.