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    7-Eleven Promotes Community Outreach in N.J.

    Police Community Network Center dedicated within a convenience store, more planned.

    FLANDERS, N.J. -- Mount Olive, N.J. Township police are going to be spending a lot more time at the 7-Eleven in Flanders, on Route 206, and they won't be there for doughnuts and coffee. Law enforcement and 7-Eleven officials last week dedicated a Police Community Network Center within the convenience store.

    A podium stationed next to the store's entranceway allows police to complete paperwork without leaving the neighborhood beat area. A phone and fax machine give the officers easy communication with headquarters. Crime prevention literature is available for interested customers to take home, reports the Parsippany Daily Record.

    The podium, which stands directly next to the store's entrance and an ATM, is in direct view of the main cash register.

    While the 7-Eleven hasn't encountered any serious crime issues, police said the initiative is for better community outreach. Officers will be checking into the store throughout their shifts and will be available to the public should residents have any questions or concerns they'd like to bring to the attention of police. "This gives everyone an opportunity to feel more comfortable with the police," said officer Brian Braikovich, who worked with 7-Eleven for the past 18 months to organize the Network Center.

    This is the first such police substation in a 7-Eleven in the Morris County area, said William Sheedy, a field consultant for 7-Eleven. "We just want to have a place where people feel safer shopping," he said.

    The 7-Eleven purchased the podium for the police, along with the phone and fax machine, and even donated a $711 check to the local Police Athletic League.

    7-Eleven has been housing police community network centers since 1988; the first one was in Philadelphia. Now there are 185 centers in 100 cities in 16 states and Washington, D.C.

    "We think it helps our relationship with the police officers, and it definitely helps the police officers build relationships with the community," said Cynthia Baker, a spokeswoman for the Dallas-based 7-Eleven company. "It's a less intimidating way for other people in the community to talk to police and have direct access to them. It's one of the tools we see help in our program of deterring crime in the neighborhood and stores."

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