An Atlanta Police Department officer recently talked a suicidal man off a bridge over the I-20 highway by showing compassion and concern for his well-being.
The episode was caught on body camera footage, which was released by the department on Facebook.
According to the department, officers from APD Zone 1 responded to a call from a 29-year-old man in a mental health crisis. The man told police that he planned to jump from a freeway overpass.
When officers arrived, they found the man standing on the edge of the Fairburn Bridge overpass on the other side of the protective fencing. Below him was a busy highway of speeding cars.
Among the responding officers was Sergeant Jason Combee, who took control of the situation and ordered units to block traffic on the interstate. The sergeant said the man responded positively to his “initiating a dialogue.”
Combee immediately tried to connect with the troubled man on a personal level by “showing concern” and asking him questions. The man told the officer he was having family issues.
“I told him, ‘Well that’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, we can get you help if you come off the bridge for us,’” Combee said.
Combee was eventually able to get the man to walk back along the fence to the starting point to get help. Grady EMS was waiting there to transport the man to Grady Hospital for treatment.
The sergeant told 11Alive that he has encountered more of these situations since the pandemic began. He also credited his training with being able to resolve such crises.
“It felt good to find some common ground with him, to prevent him from doing the unthinkable, which would have brought a lot of pain to him and his family,” Combee said.
The APD praised Combee as a model officer and wished the best for the troubled man.
“The calm demeanor, professionalism and humanity displayed by Sergeant Combee is worthy of recognition. We are proud to have him and so many officers and supervisors on our force who act in the highest interest of the community each day. We hope this gentleman gets the help he needs and that he understands the only way things get better is to get help, keep living and fight for change and better days.”