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Police Get Cuddly


Police Get Cuddly, Pack Teddy Bears Along with Usual Crime Fighting Tools

(April 19, 2002)

Neighborhood Watch officials recently added an effective, yet not-so-ominous, tool to the modern cops’ arsenal – teddy bears.



Wendy Eads of Riverside, a block captain with Neighborhood Watch, in a ceremony at the University of California, Riverside, donated more than 250 of the soft, furry fear fighters to officers of the UCR and Riverside police departments, who work together on a task force known as the University Neighborhood Enforcement Team or UNET.



Aside from the usual crime fighting tools such as side arms, shotguns, handcuffs and pepper spray, Eads’ donations will keep bears at the ready to comfort children who find themselves in scary situations. The bears will be kept in the trunks of squad cars next to bullets, road flares and riot gear.



One of the first recipients was 2-year-old Martha Palomarez who was attacked by a pair of pit bulls while playing in the front yard of a relative’s home in March. Martha’s 6-year-old brother Paul Palomarez rescued his little sister by kicking the two attacking dogs repeatedly until they let go of her. Both dogs were later destroyed.



Paul received a commendation during the April 10 ceremony at the UCR police station on Linden Street and Canyon Crest Drive.



“If it weren’t for the brave actions of her brother, I truly believe Martha wouldn’t be here,” said Felix Medina, an officer with the Riverside Police Department, who presented Martha with her Comfort Bear. Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge presented Paul with his commendation before an audience of about 40 cub and girl scouts.



The donation is a shot in the arm to the Comfort Bear Program in which police officers from both agencies keep the stuffed animals at the ready in case they encounter children who need comforting, Medina said.



“We encounter kids who need comforting quite often, whether it be at the scene of a car accident, a domestic violence call or other crime scene,” he said. “These bears seem to help them out, it gives them something to cling to when they need help.”



The police officers give out dozens of teddy bears each month and are always happy to accept donations from community groups, individuals, service clubs, churches and other interested groups, Medina added. The program depends on these donations to maintain its stock of Comfort Bears.



Anyone wishing to donate to the program is asked to call the Riverside Police Department at (909) 351-4246 or contact Officer Felix Medina at (909) 826-5939.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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