Police Replace Teddy Bears With Books

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

A new federal law has police departments re-thinking the toys they hand out to kids. Credit: Jek In The Box, Flickr

A law designed to protect kids from harmful chemicals means that some police officers are no longer handing out cuddly creatures to comfort children in times of distress.

The Middleton, Wisc., Police Department often finds children present when officers respond to emergencies -- domestic abuse, car accidents or health emergencies -- and they used to give the kids a teddy bear to make them feel safer in the midst of the chaos. Now, thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, they hand out backpacks of books, according to Madison news station WISC-TV.

The Federal law requires that all toys and children's goods be inspected to ensure that they don't contain harmful chemicals, like lead. The bears that the police department used to hand out where often donated, and the officers couldn't confirm whether or not they met the new standards of the CPSIA. The law is also retroactive, so departments like Middleton could be held liable if the toys don't meet the standards.

Middleton police Sgt. Don Mueller told WISC that the books can help kids escape using their imaginations.

"If you can get them to open it up and start reading, it can take their mind off whatever the problem is we're passing them out for in the first place," Mueller said.

The backpacks full of books are donated by a program called With Wings and a Halo Reach a Child, and offer stories for a wide age range. Officers said that the books do help.

Related: Boy Suspended for Carrying Camping Tool to School

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.