“We are just looking for kids that follow the rules,” he said.
Three students from Palm Crest Elementary School, Soo Hyon, Kaytlin Martin and Ben Choi, were surprised as Spina pulled his patrol unit over as they walked across Palm Drive at Foothill Boulevard.
“Can I talk to you kids for a minute?” he asked.
“OK,” they all said cautiously.
“Do you know why I am stopping you?” Spina asked.
They all shook their heads no. “You waited at the stop light until the crossing signal allowed you to walk.” He handed them a coupon.
“I was kind of worried,” Ben said of the stop.
“I was wondering what was going on,” Kaytlin said.
“We always look both ways when we cross and wait for the light,” Soo added.
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.”
Samkian said 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 Co. has donated more than 6 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 who 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.