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Teddy bears, officers team up to help kids

City police officers visiting crime scenes soon will be paired off with short, fuzzy partners _ teddy bears.

The 200 stuffed toys, paid for by a perpetual grant from the Kiwanis Club of Clearwater, will be used to comfort and calm victims, particularly children.

"Say I'm an officer and a kid is a victim of sexual abuse or neglect or saw his dad beat the hell out of his mother," police spokesman Wayne Shelor said this week. "The officer goes to the car and pulls out one of these teddy bears and says, "Come here, sweetheart, see what I've got for you.' It really makes a difference."

Officer James Houck initiated the program in Clearwater, suggesting that the program could help children who have been emotionally traumatized.