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By W.B. King
TORONTO -- In an effort to build strong community relations between customers and local police officers, Mac's Convenience Stores launched "Operation Freeze," an initiative providing police officers with free Frosters tickets for area youth making a positive difference.
"This is a crime initiative aimed at making better partners with the police, and in the same light, making better relations between the youth and the police," Sean Sportun, manager, loss prevention and security for Mac's in central Canada and chair of Toronto Crime Stoppers, told CSNews Online. "Kids really love the Frosters and this helps to break down barriers."
Officers will be on the look out this summer for children that are volunteering, following safety rules or deterring crime. Last year marked the inaugural rollout of the program. In total, 10,000 tickets were distributed.
"We had a 23 percent redemption rate, which is very good," said Sportun. "Our redemption rate for coupons, for example, is 2 percent." This year, approximately 25,000 vouchers will be handed out in central Canada during the summer months.
Sportun said this program was not developed in response to a rising crime rate but rather as a preventive tool. "Crime does happen in convenience stores and shrink is hit or miss," he said. "Mac's cares about the community and about crime prevention, and that is the real purpose behind the program."
Detective Larry Straver said in a released statement that the Toronto Police Service is "very excited about Operation Freeze and the positive message it will have on our community. Toronto Crime Stoppers is very proud to a part of this youth-engagement initiative. It will help build the relationship between the police and our youth. Trust will eventually follow."
Sportun told CSNews Online the program gives both Mac's employees, customers and community members an opportunity to interact with police officers in a non-traditional way. "The feedback from last year was great and we now have a partnership with police so when something does happen we have a relationship."