Police Departments Offer Kids Free Slurpees

DALLAS -- The uniformed officer approaches a group of kids, hands them "tickets" and says: "You have the right to -- a free Slurpee drink."

Once again this summer, Operation Chill, 7-Eleven stores' popular community program will reward "good behavior" with a cool treat while helping build positive relationships between local law enforcement agencies and young people.

Police officers can be intimidating to many children and teens. But by distributing free Slurpee beverage coupons to good kids doing good things, local police departments across the U.S. can take the chill off their encounters with youngsters.

Through Operation Chill, law enforcement officers from participating local police and sheriff's departments can "ticket" youngsters caught in random acts of kindness, good deeds or involved in positive community activities with the free beverage coupons. Appropriate "offenses" might include helping another person, wearing a bicycle helmet while riding or skating, deterring crime or participating in a police athletic league. Each coupon can be redeemed for a small-size Slurpee drink at participating 7-Eleven stores.

Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 10 million Operation Chill coupons have been distributed to hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country in areas where 7-Eleven operates stores. During the upcoming summer months and back-to-school season, 1 million Slurpee coupons will be given to kids in more than 300 cities, towns and counties.

Operation Chill was developed by 7-Eleven Inc. to reward and encourage good behavior by youngsters during the hot summer months when communities may experience increases in loitering, shoplifting and graffiti. The coupons also can be used to support law enforcement agencies' community relations projects.

"Operation Chill continues to be one of our most popular community projects," said Mike Suppe, 7-Eleven's loss prevention manager for Southern California. "Kids love it because they love Slurpee drinks. Police officers love it because it gives them a positive reason for them to approach youngsters and thank them for being good citizens."

He added: "Rewarding a million kids with free Slurpees for doing something right is the right thing to do for a lot of different reasons. Operation Chill helps build strong relationships in the community and recognizes young people's good deeds."

According to Suppe, police departments start contacting 7-Eleven earlier each year to sign up for the annual program. Cities already participating in this year's program include Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Boston, Orlando, Tampa, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas and Richmond, Va.

"This is an excellent way to provide an incentive and reinforce positive behavior," said Sgt. Amos Melo, who supervises the New Bedford, Mass., police department's school resource officers. "Our department has 300 officers who interact with kids on their police beats, and we received an overwhelming response when we offered to provide them with Operation Chill coupons."

More than a half-million Slurpee drinks are purchased each day during the summer at 7-Eleven stores across the country, according to the retailer.

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