WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, NJ (WPIX/CNN) - When a 12-year-old with autism called 911 for help finding his missing teddy bear, the New Jersey police officer who responded offered kindness and understanding.
Ryan Paul, 12, has autism, and when his beloved teddy bear went missing Wednesday evening, it left him frazzled. Instead of asking his parents for help, the boy called 911.
“My teddy bear fall down again. Don’t worry, I’ll rescue you again. Goodbye again. See you again,” said Ryan in the phone call.
The 12-year-old then hung up.
When police called back, Ryan’s father, Robert Paul, realized what had happened and explained there was no emergency. But as part of Woodbridge Township Police policy, officers must respond to the locations of hang-up calls.
Officer Khari Manzini arrived at the Paul home, just a few minutes later. It turned out he was well-equipped to handle the situation, having received specialized training from POAC Autism Services, which assists in autism recognition and response scenarios.
"Whenever we can use that training to make sure that not only do we keep ourselves safe but those folks that we’re helping out safe, it makes a great difference,” Manzini said.
In the end, Ryan’s teddy bear was found right on the side of his bed, and the Paul family is grateful for Manzini and the Woodbridge Police Department.
"He just couldn’t have been more accommodating or understanding. It was really great,” Paul said.
Paul says he and Ryan have since talked about the incident, and the 12-year-old has learned a missing teddy bear isn’t a true emergency.