Police officer saves the day after boy with autism calls 911 over lost teddy bear
A New Jersey police officer came to the rescue after a heartbroken child with autism called 911 for help finding his lost toy.
Ryan Paul, a 12-year-old from Woodbridge Township, N.J., became distressed after he lost his small teddy bear Freddy in his bedroom, his family told WABC.
The young boy then did what he had been previously instructed to do during "emergency" situations — he called 911, and spoke briefly to a dispatcher about a "rescue" before hanging up the phone.
The call came much to the shock of his parents.
"I said Ryan, did you call 911?" Ryan's father, Robert Paul, told WABC. "And he said 'yes', and I said why? And he said, 'Teddy bear rescue.'"
Paul then called the Woodbridge Police Department to inform them there wasn't a real emergency, but according to the township's policy, an officer must be sent out to all 911 hang up calls.
Officer Khari Manzini quickly responded to the family's home, but once he understood the situation, he said the special training he underwent via the nonprofit POAC Autism Services kicked in.
The policeman proceeded to help Ryan locate his beloved toy and then stayed to take photos with the boy and make sure he felt safe.
"We found the teddy bear, the teddy bear was OK," Officer Manzini said. "He was in safe hands, no injuries, nothing like that."
Ryan's father later took to Facebook to express his gratitude for how the officer handled the situation and the kindness he showed his son.
"I'd like to thank the officer who responded for his kindness and understanding, even posing for a picture with the "offender", as well as the 9-1-1 operator who called back to make sure everything was ok," Paul wrote. "I'm glad that we have such a fine and caring police department."
"I'm a little offended my son didn't get me (a firefighter) to help with the rescue," he also joked.
POAC Autism Services is a nonprofit organization based in New Jersey that provides training for parents, educators, police officers and first responders to better serve children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families.
The group aims to support the growing needs of the state's autism population, which it says is the highest in the country.
To learn more or donate, click here.