Successful Outcome of Overnight Negotiations with Would-Be Suicide Jumper Shines Spotlight on Special Police Teams

Published : Tuesday, September 4, 2018 | 5:57 AM

Police negotiators were able to convince a suicidal woman not to jump in marathon negotiations on the Colorado Street bridge on Monday, September 3, 2018. Meanwhile, below, Fire Dept. crews set up a giant rescue mattress which ultimately was not needed. Photo courtesy Vincent Montanelli

[Updated] The successful outcome Monday of a harrowing 13-hour drama with a would-be suicide jumper on the Colorado Street Bridge has drawn wide praise for the work of a Pasadena police team which specialize in crisis intervention.

The Crisis Negotiation Team officers arrived at the bridge late Sunday night shortly after the suicidal woman was reported to police and talked with her until nearly noon on Monday.

As in many cases before, the officers were able to convince the woman to climb back to safety.

Mayor Terry Tornek on Monday echoed the praises which rippled across social media for the police negotiators.

“This is what they do,” he said. “They deserve all the credit in the world.”

The Police Crisis Negotiation Team has 14 members, consisting of one Lieutenant, two Sergeants, three Corporals, two Dispatchers, one Park Safety Specialist, and five officers, according to a police department spokesperson. Six members of the team are women and eight are men.

The team is a voluntary assignment, with no time limit or constraints in terms of years of service, and it is considered an “absolute specialty” by the police department.

Team members undergo an initial 40 hours of Peace Officers Standards and Training for crisis negotiators, Crisis Team Supervisor Lieutenant Jesse Carrillo told Pasadena Now Monday. There are also mandatory quarterly meetings for every member of the team, each of whom is required to belong to the California Association of Hostage Negotiators he said.

Interim Police Chief John Perez said he was pleased with not only the response of officers and negotiators but with the event’s safe ending.

“It turned out very well,” he said Monday. “We used probably a total of about 10 negotiators, two different teams of people over 12 hours, and through the night hours.”

Chief Perez explained, “We have to, number one, make sure that we keep our negotiators fresh, and that our officers who are out there stay focused on what’s happening. “

“They’re trying to keep the young lady focused as well. We don’t want her to get tired holding onto that bridge,” Perez said.

On top of all of this, Perez said, “it gets emotional.”

“For her to be up there that long, there was a huge emotional connection that the negotiators had with her trying to keep the conversation alive and keep her connected to all that they were doing.”

Lt. Carrillo said that the specialized team members are also patrol officers.

“We were fortunate that one of the officers on duty last night was also part of our crisis negotiations team. So he was one of the first officers on scene to commence the negotiations with her.”

“So,” Carrillo continued, “What happens is that officers get there and if they can start some dialogue with the individual and get them engaged, we let that be for some time and assess things — if they’re making progress or if there’s going to be a need for potential negotiators to respond. And that was the case last night. So after about 30 minutes or so that they were engaged in conversation, the watch commander makes the decision to call me, and then we get the supervisor and at minimum, two negotiators to respond to the scene.”

As Carrillo explained, the teams have a primary negotiator who is engaged in dialogue, with a secondary officer there to listen to the conversation and give feedback to the command post, in terms of the progress of negotiations.

Carrillo saluted his team members, saying “This is just another incident where you see we have individuals show what they’re truly about, that they care about the well-being of every individual that’s out there and especially those that are experiencing some level of crisis. I’m proud to be a part of the team that can pull together the way they do to lend a hand to someone who is in crisis.”

 

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