Rewarded for doing good

Children throughout the unincorporated area of La Crescenta may be a bit surprised when a Crescenta Valley sheriff's deputy stops them as they walk or ride their bike around town. They are being stopped not because they did something wrong, but because they did something right.

For the fourth consecutive year, the CV Sheriff's Station is participating in the Operation Chill program. In the course of their patrols, deputies look for kids practicing safe street and sidewalk practices like riding their bicycle with the proper safety helmet or using the crosswalks when crossing the street. The kids are stopped and handed a coupon for a 7-Eleven Slurpee.

The Valley Sun recently went on a ride-along with CV Deputy Michael Spina as he found kids doing the right thing and surprised them with a coupon. The reaction was surprise, to say the least.

“We are just looking for kids that follow the rules,” he said.

Monte Vista Elementary fourth graders Alice Kim and Crystal Yi followed safe laws when they used the crosswalks and waited for traffic on their way home from school. When Spina got out of his patrol unit the girls smiled politely and said hello.

The deputy walked over to them and explained the program and handed them a Slurpee coupon. Kim said they are always careful when they walk home from school.

“We look both ways when we cross the street,” Yi said.

They were a little shocked at first.

“We are very happy,” Kim said once they held the coupon in their hand.

As Spina drove down Briggs Avenue he saw Mountain Avenue Elementary fifth grader Adrian Samkian wait at the crosswalk until the crossing guard gave the OK to cross. The student crossed and thanked the guard.

“See, not only did he use the crosswalk but he was polite,” Spina said.

He pulled his patrol unit over.

“Excuse me,” Spina said.

Samkian stopped and turned toward the deputy. “I am stopping you because you used the crosswalk,” Spina said.

At first Samkian had a quizzical look on his face, and then slowly smiled. Spina explained the program and handed him the coupon. Samkian was still in disbelief as he took the coupon and said. “Thank you.”

When are reporter asked the youth how he felt when he was stopped by the deputy, Samkian replied, “A little scared. But now I feel proud.”

He said that he always try to follow safe practices when walking home from school. Samkian added that he liked the program and the coupon but still was a little shocked.

“But I'm not in trouble?” Samkian asked.

“No,” Spina reassured him. “That coupon is for you.”

Since 1995 the 7-Eleven Company has donated more than six million Slurpee coupons to law enforcement agencies across the country.

“I am grateful to the 7-Eleven Corporation for working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to enhance the community partnership with the youth in the area. Positive contacts by law enforcement and rewarding children for there good deeds goes a long way toward keeping them from straying into a life of crime,” said Capt. Dave Silversparre.

The program runs throughout the year. All deputies have the coupons in their patrol cars. Although some kids that are stopped are at first in shock, they all leave with a grin on their face, a coupon for a Slurpee in their pocket and a great story to tell their friends.

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