Stuffed Animals Earn Salt Lake Woman Citizen Award

Alex Cabrero
May 31, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Usually, a bunch of police officers walking up to a house is bad news for the homeowner. That’s especially true when the police chief is among them.

The woman Salt Lake City police visited Tuesday probably never did anything wrong. Even still, Maria Noble was shocked when she answered the knock at her door.

“Oh my goodness,” she said when she saw all the officers.

But Noble had nothing to worry about. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank and several of his top officers were at her house to thank her — for her teddy bears.

“I was shocked, to tell you the truth,” said Noble, “I knew somebody was coming to pick up the bears, but I didn’t expect all this.”

Noble’s teddy bears aren’t ordinary stuffed animals. They’re actually for children of domestic violence cases.

This time, she had two bags full ready to go. “I like to fix everything up really nice and clean, because those poor little kids are mostly abused,” Noble said.

Domestic violence cases affect everyone involved, including officers. Already this year, deputies in Carbon County and Elko County, Nev., were shot responding to these types of calls.

On a recent episode of KSL’s “Sunday Edition with Bruce Lindsay,” Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said most of his office’s 911 calls deal with these cases.

“As much as 50 percent of our call volume is related to some domestic situation or another,” Winder said. “That doesn’t mean it’s for domestic violence. It could also be other circumstances, like property or custody — those other issues which we loosely define as domestic in nature.”

Maria Noble was named the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Citizen of the Month for April 2011. According to the Utah Domestic Violence Council, about 4,000 men, women and children received some help from a domestic violence shelter in Utah last year.

“Those numbers have stayed steady,” said Judy Kasten Bell, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Council, who was also a guest on “Sunday Edition.”

“The numbers aren’t reducing,” Bell said, “but they’re not increasing. And those are actually just people who left their own house and went to a shelter.”

Noble’s stuffed animals keep children occupied while officers talk to the adults involved. That’s why Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank named Noble the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Citizen of the Month.

“This makes us better,” Burbank said. “These are little things you can’t write in a budget [like] ‘I want so many teddy bears for officers to give out.’ Maria, she doesn’t get the credit she deserves.”

Noble said she does it because she loves children. “I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, and that’s always good,” she said.