Hibbing police get toys to occupy children
Hibbing Police Sgt. Kris Halvorson thought there had to be a more efficient way to make sure officers could distract children caught up in traumatic events at home or in the police station.
“You’re always struggling for a way to entertain them,” he said.
An example was the woman who came in with her child to talk about a domestic dispute. While the woman was being interviewed, another officer spent an hour entertaining the child.
“We were scrambling for things for him to do,” Halvorson said.
So he got creative. He used some money from the DARE program he runs to get enough “care packages” for 10 squad cars and a few for the police station. They contain toys, stuffed animals, crayons and books.
“Now we can just grab something and it’s easier,” he said.
Once the packages are given to children, they keep them, so the department is asking the public to think about donating items, Halvorson said.
“The public wants to support us, and this is one way to do that,” he said. “We don’t want to run short.”
New or slightly used items for children age 8 and younger are welcome, Halvorson said.
He’d heard of similar programs around the country and went for it. There have been piles of toys at the police station in the past but they weren’t always accessible after business hours. And there were no items for squad cars. Officers often had to go back to the station for toys.
It’s important for children to develop a rapport with officers, he said, to build trust and offer a sense of safety.
“They’re innocent and don’t know what’s going on,” Halvorson said.
The toys will ease fears, he said. “It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something.”
You can help To donate, contact Sgt. Kris Halvorson at (218) 263-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org