By Rhonda Mix


BELVIDERE – Every summer since 1995, 7-Eleven has held Operation Chill – a program in which police officers “ticket” young people in the community who are caught in the act of doing good deeds and acting as exemplary citizens. The “tickets” given are actually coupons for free Slurpee drinks that can be picked up at 7-Eleven stores.

This year, the Belvidere Police Department will take part. Officers at the BPD were recently gifted a stack of Slurpee coupons, in partnership with 7-Eleven, to hand out to the “offenders.”

The officers will present the tickets to young people they see committing good deeds, acts of kindness or examples of responsible citizenship – actions such as wearing protective bike riding gear properly, participating in school safety events, taking part in community service activities, picking up trash and helping other people.

“It is an ice breaker to establish [good rapport] between officers and kids,” said Belvidere Chief of Police, Jan Noble. “I think that any time we can give positive rewards, encourage good behavior to the youth in Belvidere during the hot summer days and gain and garner support, it’s a win-win for the public and the police.”

Operation Chill started in Philadelphia as a way to give local officers a positive reason to interact with children and teens.

The program was developed by the 7-Eleven convenience stores with the intention of rewarding and encouraging good behavior in kids during the summer months when communities tend to experience increases in loitering, shoplifting and instances of graffiti.

The program also was intended to support community relations projects with law enforcement agencies.

“For 20 years, Operation Chill has been rewarding kids for their good behavior being positive role models,” said Nancy Lear, 7-Eleven senior manager of corporate social responsibility and community relations, in a recent article on the corporate 7-Eleven website.

“Kids especially need to be recognized when they’re caught making the right or a good decision, not just when they mess up. Every year, more law enforcement agencies learn how Operation Chill helps community policing and interaction with their youngest citizens and have signed up. We hope they and 7-Eleven can reach new generations with this frozen treat for years to come.”

This year, the convenient store chain will distribute up to 1.25 million Operation Chill coupons to 885 local law enforcement agencies in areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Orlando, Tampa, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas.

Nearly 14 million coupons have been given to law enforcement agencies across the country since the program’s inception.

Operation Chill is a bright beacon of positivity in an age when law enforcement officials are often portrayed negatively in the media, and the Belvidere Police Department is honored to have received the Slurpee tickets.

“It is a generous donation,” said Noble. “It gives officers one more avenue to build positive public relations in a time where law enforcement is being scrutinized now more than ever.”

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