Some cuddly teddy bears and other stuffed animals will join the Tampa Police Department (TPD) thanks to Saint Leo University. On December 16, at the university’s Tampa Education Center, Interim TPD Chief Ruben Delgado, Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw ’21, members of the department’s new Behavioral Health Unit, and other TPD members, received nearly 250 stuffed animals.
Spearheaded by the university’s Tampa Education Center and supported by the Student Government Union and East Pasco Education Center, Teddy Bears for TPD collected the stuffed animals from November 9 through December 13 at the university’s Tampa location and at its residential campus in Pasco County.
The new Behavioral Health Unit, along with the Major Crimes, Sex Crimes,
and Domestic Violence units, will now have teddy bears and stuffed animals in their vehicles that they can give to provide comfort to children in stressful situations, Bercaw said.
Law enforcement officers often encounter children on the scene of a crime, accident, or other situation. “When police arrive on scene, they’re the first people to see children in a traumatic situation,” Delgado said. “Giving them a teddy bear or a stuffed animal helps calm them. It really makes a difference.”