Veterans donate "Trauma Bears" to sheriff's deputies

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Bay County Sheriff's Deputies will soon be carrying a new tool among the equipment in their patrol cars.

"We respond to motor vehicle accidents or acts of domestic violence, most traumatic time in a child's life, and in that moment, we can give them these bears," Deputy Dustin Roache said.

On Tuesday, veterans with the Amvets Post 2298 in Callaway donated 220 "Trauma Bears" to sheriff's deputies.

Post Commander Rocky Bradford said the national AMVETS organization sold the toys for years but recently decided to stop so the local post bought every last bear in stock.

The veterans knew Sheriff Tommy Ford and his deputies could use them.

"There's a little note inside. It says, 'A bear hug for you to know that you are loved, and to keep you safe at night when all is not right,'" Bradford said.  "That's fantastic."

"It's a great opportunity when we come upon a child when we're out on a call for service to make a positive connection and let them know we care about them," Ford said.

Every patrol deputy will receive two bears to carry in their cars. They can hand out the stuffed animals on day-to-day calls but hope the bears make an impact that lasts long after they've cleared the scene.

"We may be able to influence that child further down the road to do the right thing and to come to us in a time of need as opposed to run and hide from us," Roache said.

Sheriff Ford said deputies have carried stuffed animals in their patrol cars in the past, but the donation will allow them to reach even more children.

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