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Police reinforce coolness of good behavior

Irvine officers reward children doing good deeds with a coupon for a frozen drink.

July 09, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

It's one of those rare times you want to hear police yell, "Freeze!"

For the 12th consecutive year, according to Irvine police officials, the department is participating in Operation Chill, a program sponsored by 7-Eleven where officers distribute Slurpee coupons to kids they see following the law.

"I know that a positive interaction with police makes a huge impact with kids," said Officer Michael Predney, who works in the D.A.R.E. program. "If it's a negative reaction, they'll just dwell on that for the rest of their life. This is going to soften that impact and they're going to feel comfortable talking to us. It's a lasting impression on the kids."

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Irvine is one of many cities nationwide participating in the "brain freeze" epidemic, er, program, that will see more than 1 million Slurpee coupons distributed by the end of the year, according to 7-Eleven.

Predney said he handed a couple out earlier this week. He gives coupons to kids he sees doing basic good things, like crossing the street at a crosswalk or wearing their helmets while riding their bikes.

"I saw two kids riding, so I hit the horn on my unit and waved them down," Predney said. "Obviously their faces are like, 'What's going on? Why you stopping us?'"

Then Predney pulled out the coupons, a perfect treat in a particularly hot week.

"The kids' faces all lit up and were like, 'This is the greatest!'" Predney said. "Their parents came out; first they're all concerned. But the kicker for me was as I was walking by I hear them say 'See kids, when you do the right thing you get rewarded for it.'"

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