(WOODBRIDGE, N.J.) — A boy with autism who called 911 to report that his beloved teddy bear was missing was connected with just the right officer to conduct a search and rescue response to recover the stuffed animal.
Woodbridge Police officer Khari Manzini responded to the New Jersey home of 12-year-old Ryan Paul last week after Ryan placed a phone call to emergency dispatchers, telling them that Freddy, his handheld-sized friend, hadn’t been seen in some time, ABC New York station WABC-TV reported.
Ryan lost the brown bear while playing in his room, but decided that first responders would be a better option than his parents to help find him, News 12 New Jersey reported.
Ryan’s father, Robert Paul, told WABC-TV he was shocked at first to learn that his son had made the call.
“I said, ‘Ryan, did you call 911?'” Paul said, prompting his son to reply, “Teddy bear rescue.”
Manzini, who has received special training in autism recognition and response, found Freddy once he arrived to the Pauls’ home. It is unclear exactly where the teddy bear was located.
“We found the teddy bear, the teddy bear was OK,” Manzini said. “He was in safe hands, no injuries, nothing like that.”
Cameras caught the moment Ryan hugged the officer, thanking him for saving his teddy bear. Manzini told News 12 that getting to know the residents and making them feel comfortable is a “major part” of his job.
Paul took to Facebook to thank Manzini for his “kindness and understanding” as well as the emergency dispatcher who called the right officer to their home.
“I’m glad that we have such a fine and caring police department,” Paul wrote. The firefighter joked that he was “offended” that his own son didn’t enlist his help in the rescue.
Paul told News 12 that he’s proud of his son for knowing what to do in an emergency, adding that they need to work on fine-tuning the skill to use in an actual emergency.
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