An organization in Southern Arizona is working with law enforcement agencies to lessen the impact of potentially traumatic experiences on children and teens.

The founder of the nonprofit, Jennifer Turner-Jones, started Southern Arizona Book Heroes to help kids who may have had similar experiences to her.

“I personally was abused when I was little,” she said. “And I was taken away from my family and put into a shelter.”

In an unfamiliar situation and place, Turner-Jones turned to books.

“In the shelter, there was a bookshelf that I would just get lost in the books and hide because I didn’t want to be in my reality,” she said.

Her favorites were “Where the Wild Things Are” and series like “Nancy Drew” and “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

Now, as an adult, Turner-Jones collects books to give to first responders who, in turn, give them to children they encounter on calls.

Those first responders include Officer Heather Mah of the Tucson Police Department, who started carrying a ‘Book Heroes’ duffle bag in the back of her police cruiser around two years ago.

“The idea of giving out books also helps fill their time,” she said. “Ive used it a lot in domestic violence calls where were talking to the parents, and the kids are just scared.

She said she thinks that giving the books out to children will also give them a positive perception of law enforcement.

“Whether it’s on the call or not, if you give them a sticker or a toy, its a positive interaction with law enforcement,” she said. “They learn we’re not the bad guy.”

Turner-Jones said that their program is expanding, and she hopes to move past Southern Arizona. Southern Arizona Book Heroes currently works with 28 departments around Southern Arizona and a representative from the board said they have given books to over 11,000 children ranging from toddlers to teenagers.

The organization’s next step is to get books to Border Patrol Agents, which Turner-Jones says they’re working to do within the next couple months.