Police in Denham Springs use teddy bears to comfort children
LIVINGSTON PARISH - Each and every Denham Springs police unit has a new addition to their patrol. It's not the latest gadget, gizmo, or state-of-the-art siren. Instead, it's something a little softer with a coat of fur.
Teddy bears have become permanent passengers to aid the children that officers may come into contact with while on duty.
"When they see a stuffed animal, they automatically feel safe and secure," Police Union President Daniel Bergeron said. "For many of them, this is their first interaction with a police officer, and I'm not that scary walking up with a firearm on my side."
It's all part of a program started by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputy back in 2016. Barran's Bears is a non-profit organization that provides teddy bears for law enforcement to use at scenes when children are put in stressful situations.
"Basically it gives them something to focus on other than what the incident is bringing them," he added.
Bergeron is already noticing the impact the bears are having on kids put in tough situations like car accidents.
"I handed [a child] one of the bears and she squeezed it as tight as she could, and just sat down with a smile on her face and started playing with the bear. It just took all the focus from the scene and put it on the bear."
And every single bear has been donated.
"We receive big garbage bags full of them... hundreds of them."
For Bergeron, it's making all the difference for each officer with a bit of pint-sized protection amongst all the other gear in their patrol cars.