DALLAS - 7-Eleven announced earlier this week the relaunch of its Operation Chill community relations program, whereby the convenience store chain distributes "Free Slurpee" coupons to local police who then reward children they observe behaving well.
This year, 7-Eleven will distribute coupons to more than 600 agencies across the country as part of its award-winning program that was first introduced 17 years ago.
"Uniformed police officers can be intimidating to many kids," said Mark Stinde, 7-Eleven's vice president of asset protection. "Recognizing good behavior helps build positive relationships between local law enforcement agencies and young people and encourages good behavior with a favorite summertime treat."
As part of the program, police officers from participating precincts "ticket" youngsters with free Slurpee coupons whom they catch performing acts of kindness or good deeds . "Offenses" might include wearing a bicycle helmet while riding or skateboarding or participating in a police athletic league. Each coupon is redeemable for a small Slurpee drink at participating stores.
"Every year, we use Operation Chill coupons at school bus stops because they are great at bridging the gap in communications with kids," said Sgt. Jerry A. MacDonald of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept.'s Convention Center Area Command. "The coupons go a long way in turning around negative perceptions of policing and police officers and build relationships that help stop crime and improve the quality of life in the community."
Since the program began in 1995, more than 11 million Operation Chill coupons have been distributed.
"Operation Chill continues to be a summer program that both kids and officers eagerly anticipate each year," Stinde said. "What kid doesn't love a free Slurpee drink? And having a reason to approach youngsters in a non-authoritative role gives police officers an opportunity to build long-term positive connections in the community."