Providing comfort in times of distress is nothing new for Paul Thomas the Director of Paul Thomas Funeral Homes in Miami. Thomas has partnered with the Miami Police Department to provide stuffed toy animals for each and every patrol car for the police officers to give to the children they encounter during their duties.
Miami Chief of Police George Haralson said that the idea to give these huggable animals to comfort children is all about the community and community based police partnerships with businesses to provide for the citizens in Miami. “It's a long term program that has worked in other places and we plan to keep it here,” he said.
Officers will be able to provide a comforting, loveable stuffed toy animal to young children either at the scene of a car accident, during an arrest situation, or in any situation the officer thinks the consoling comfort of these toys might ease a stressful situation.
“We want to help give children a positive look at police officers who often times meet them only in these stressful or scary situations,” Chief Haralson said.
Thomas said he was contacted by the department and asked if he might be interested in helping with this. “I immediately said yes, because I understand the importance for the children's sake. There are even times when there has been a death and it helps,” Thomas said.
Thomas donated the funds to purchase the toys and said he is committed to the idea. “When they need more, we'll get them more,” he said.
Sargent Jason Arnold said, “Unfortunately often times we're seen in the most negative part of a person's life and a lot of time that's passed down to the kids. This is a way we can let them know we're not the bad guys. We're there to help. We're all friendly.”
“More importantly they're afraid to approach us when they need help, we want to change that. We want them to come to us for help,” Sgt. Arnold said.
He said that most of the officers are parents and it helps to have these special toys to give. “It makes us feel better to be able to do something when they're crying or upset to make them feel better,” he said.
Chief Haralson said,“I myself have a koala bear I call K-Bear strapped in the back of my car.”
“We have a whole bag of huggable toys. Mr.Thomas was very generous in providing these for us and has pledged to provide more as we need them,” Chief Haralson said.