Friday, February 6, 2015

The Softer Side of the Sun (Now With Teddy Bears)

As I have mentioned before on the Sun, our Belle Isle Police Department appears to be flourishing under the new direction of Chief Ring. At the recent workshop meeting on January 28, Chief Ring swore in three new BIPD members, Officer Jon Paul Gargano, Officer Justin Lemieux and Deputy Chief Laura Houston.

Not wasting any time, Deputy Chief Houston requested Commissioner Nielsen's assistance in getting the message out about some new ideas at the BIPD. Although Commissioner Nielsen has not done much writing for the Sun lately (articles written by contributing authors are clearly marked with the authors' names), she thought that this would be the perfect forum for getting the BIPD's message  out to additional residents.

In a recent conversation with Chief Ring, he stressed the importance of making connections between BIPD officers and the members of the our community, noting that police officers often meet residents under the worst of conditions. Chief Ring believes that we can improve trust and communication in Belle Isle by putting residents together in less formal and tense social situations.

To this end, you may have heard that the BIPD sponsored a project over the recent holiday season aimed at providing and hanging house decorations for elderly residents who needed assistance. While hanging decorations at the home of one local resident living alone, Community Resource Officer Dawn Nodzon noted how much a teddy bear meant to this woman, one of the dozen or so "adoptive grandparents" that Officer Nodzon checks on daily. This sparked the idea that perhaps children would also be comforted by holding a bear while the BIPD works to resolve the potentially stressful situations that can occur during service calls when children are present.

But for this to happen, the BIPD needs your help. More specifically, they need teddy bears. Here are the details:

  • Bears must be NEW - not gently used
  • Bears must be "huggable-sized" - not too big or too small
  • Bears must be sealed in one gallon zip-lock bags so they can be transported and kept clean by the officers
  • Bears must not be holiday-themed - nobody wants a Christmas bear in July
  • Bears must be bears - not alligators, seals or honey badgers

Drop off teddy bears meeting the above requirements to the Belle Isle Police Department headquarters, located at 1521 Nela Avenue. You can also email Officer Dawn Nodzon for more information at or call the BIPD at 407-240-2473.

Another way to meet and support your local BIPD officers will be the upcoming "Tip-A-Cop" event at Fish On Fire on Thursday, February 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Residents can meet and be served by their local BIPD officers, who will fill in for the regular Fish On Fire waiting staff. All tips collected will go to "BIPD Cares." Funds will be utilized to support police initiatives for our community, especially our elderly and youth residents.

The BIPD will also be hosting a golf tournament in the spring or summer of 2015, details to be determined.

So for now, mark your calendars for the afternoon of February 26, and don't forget to drop off your teddy bears. According to Commissioner Nielsen, "we're going to need a steady flow of bears."

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