SEGUIN, Texas – Seguin police now have fluffy ridealongs after a resident donated several teddy bears to the Police Department to help with community engagement.
Linda Perez, who worked with the Texas Department of Public Safety for 30 years, got the idea while cleaning her house.
“I cleaned my house, and in doing so, I had all of these stuffed animals in the back bedroom that I needed to find a home for,” Perez said.
Perez took the bears to the department because she said she understood it can have a major impact on a child in a traumatic situation.
“If they have been in an accident or their parents have been injured, they are upset,” Perez said. “The parent can’t come comfort them. It gives them something to hug and hold onto and relate to.”
Officer Tanya Brown, public information specialist with the department, said the officers are grateful for the donations because they can also help with building trust with children.
“Maybe we have been to their house and arrested their parents or at a traffic stop, so they have maybe a negative vision of the police,” Brown said. “Sometimes parents are really bad about telling their children that police are going to arrest them if they are naughty, and that is not true. The bears will build that bridge with them. It will open up the dialog where they will see that we are friends and not the bad guy.”
Officers have taken the bears and placed them in plastic bags to prevent them from getting dirty in the patrol units.
Brown said when they do make a connection with kids while they are out, it is impactful for everyone.
“When you give a stuffed animal to a child, it lights their face up, so it is nice to see that smile. They normally give you a big ol' hug around your neck, so it makes you feel good,” Brown said. “A lot of time, we start talking to them and it is kind of nice to end the conversation with a prize or present, and then they remember us.”
Brown said she is grateful that the community is on board with helping them with this initiative. Since the department made a social media post about the donation, others have come forward with their donations.
“We like helping people, so we are here, and with the public’s help, like this donation, we are here to do that,” Brown said.
Brown said anyone who would like to donate a new or gently used stuffed animal can drop it off at the Police Department at 350 North Guadalupe Street in Seguin.