620WTMJ Teddy Bear Patrol empowers police to serve traumatized kids
MILWAUKEE - This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Teddy Bear Patrol, and more than 30 schools and volunteer organizations have presented the bears they've collected to law enforcement agencies across our area.
As crews loaded 2,989 stuffed animals into the back of squad cars and emergency vehicles, West Milwaukee Police officer Tony Munoz reflected on what something as simple as a teddy bear means to a young child going through a traumatic event.
"When we have to go to accident scenes, when there's kids involved and they don't understand what's going on, it's a traumatic incident. With these bears, it puts an ease to them. It shows that it's going to be OK," said Munoz.
Over the Teddy Bear Patrol's 20 years, volunteers have donated a whopping 101,338 stuffed animals and, as Milwaukee Police Community Liaison Officer Jesus Gloria puts it, served to improve the relationship law enforcement has with the children of the communities they serve.
"This just reminds them that we're good guys, that we're not the bad guys," said Gloria.
"It helps them connect the dots. They're connecting the dots even though they hear bad about the police. They see bad things sometimes on TV. This helps them see that in the long run, you have a good memory of a police officer.
"They remember that teddy bear. It's awesome."