A recent effort to collect teddy bears for Pittsburgh police officers to hand out to children in emergency situations far outstripped its intended scope.
The city collected about 3,200 stuffed animals from the Pittsburgh area and beyond, more than 10 times the original goal set in March.
Police officers and paramedics will be able to hand out brand-new stuffed animals to children who find themselves in scary situations, like car accidents, house fires or medical emergencies.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said he hopes the supply will last for years.
“Any time we use a bear, there’s a child that’s obviously scared, frightened and there’s a problem,” Hissrich said.
It’s one small way to improve what’s usually a bad situation. It’s also a way to build community relations for a bureau that has experienced several scandals in recent years.
Assistant police chief Scott Schubert said he hopes the stuffed animals will show both kids and parents that Pittsburgh police officers are compassionate and want to help.
“We’re sometimes brought into a situation that we don’t want to be in, they don’t want to be in and we have to handle it as best we can," Schubert said. "When there’s a child involved, if we can do something to make it a little bit easier for them, that’s what we want to do.”
Each police car and ambulance in the city will carry five stuffed animals.