These kids put their hands out, not up, so deputies could recognize them for doing good.
By Maddy PUMILIA
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station has partnered with 7-Eleven stores to recognize kids who are doing the right thing, like riding their bikes with a helmet on or pressing the crosswalk button before crossing the street, by giving out free Slurpees.
Operation Chill is the name of the program and 7-Eleven started it in 1996. Sgt. Mark Slater of the CV Sheriff’s Station is the one responsible for bringing the program to Crescenta Valley six years ago.
When deputies drive around and see kids doing the right thing, they pull over and give the youth a 12-oz Slurpee coupon. There are no exact criteria of what things kids need do to get a coupon – it could be getting out of the way while a car is coming or going outside and playing tennis rather than sitting inside and playing video games. A kid might even get a Slurpee for attending a Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting. The important thing is it reinforces the good behavior the kids partake in.
“Basically, it is 7-Eleven’s way to help lessen the gap between law enforcement and the community,” Slater said. “It helps bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.” He added that the Slurpees were a win for everyone.
The number of coupons given in a day varies. The deputies carry the coupons in their patrol car. On Tuesday, Slater gave out 10.
“It depends how busy we are,” Slater said. “If the deputies have free time, they give out more. There’s no set number. There’s no average.”
The coupon distribution for Slurpees started in May. Slater said summer is a nice time for the program because it’s hot out and school is out so a lot of kids are hanging around outside.
“The appreciation factor is better in the summer, because it’s a hot day … it’s ideal to do it in the summer,” Slater said.
Usually, when Slater pulls over, kids go from shocked to scared to uncertain to happiness after they get their Slurpee.
Monica Grubbs, a 16-year-old Crescenta Valley High School student, was awarded a Slurpee coupon for crossing the street correctly and throwing away her trash.
“It’s good to get a free Slurpee,” she said. “I thought I did something wrong. I’ve never gotten pulled over by a cop. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. I usually [throw away my trash and cross the street correctly]. I want the environment to be good for my kids.”
Sabrina White, a 12-year-old, was given a Slurpee coupon for wearing her helmet while riding her bike and stopping for cars. Like Grubbs, she thought she did something wrong when she was pulled over. She said she would tell her friends about the program.
Slater said the program is good because kids tell their friends about the Slurpees, so more kids are doing good deeds, hoping they too receive a Slurpee.
Slater gave 19-year-old Amanda Johnson and 16-year-old Pablo Hernandez Slurpees while they were playing tennis. They planned to redeem their Slurpees after their tennis match.
“Slurpees sound so good right now,” Hernandez said.