A New Haven police officer had an emotional moment when he talked a man out of jumping off a bridge and taking his own life on January 19.
According to the New Haven Police Department in Connecticut, two police officers were patrolling the Fair Haven neighborhood when they were alerted of a man having a mental health crisis, and who was about to jump off the top of Ferry Street Bridge.
Officers Shane Wityak and T. Evans used their de-escalation and crisis intervention training to prevent the man from jumping.
“I could tell by his body language that he was kind of more open to conversation, so we took a soft approach,” Wityak told NBC CT.
Wityak said he spent more than 15 minutes just talking to the man.
“Just by his body language I didn’t have an immediate fear that he was going to jump. So, I just played it slower than sometimes we have to,” Wityak explained. “So, once I was able to talk him away from the ledge he was on it was just a huge relief.”
A Facebook post from the department reiterated that Officer Wityak used his crisis intervention skills to dissuade the man from jumping.
The two then shared an emotional moment and embraced in a hug after the incident.
“Officer Wityak used his skills in crisis intervention and with much empathy and compassion to convince the individual to seek help at the hospital. It was an emotional encounter for both the officer and the individual, which ended in a hug,” the department wrote on Facebook.
Wityak spoke about the importance of crisis intervention training to de-escalate such situations.
“You still have to de-escalate someone’s emotional state, so the fact that he got to this state where he was considering what he was considering, it was just huge to be able to dip into that training and kind of talk him off of whatever was going on with him,” Wityak said.
Wityak said he planned to check in on the man’s progress after he underwent medical care.
“The last thing you want to do in that situation is kind of turn someone away,” Wityak said. “He was looking out to me there so just to be able to open up and give it to him, I think was huge for him.”
Facebook users praised the officer’s actions.
“YES! Crisis intervention > use of force. Obviously, this situation didn’t warrant force anyway, but these officers should be commended as examples of what we need from our police forces,” one user wrote.