Law enforcement are trained to handle multiple types of situations, including how to de-escalate circumstances that are potentially violent. This includes mental health calls.
Mental Health Call
Dashboard footage captures two Stillwater officers talking a young man off a ledge. On March 15th, Officers Kurt Merrill and Damian Neiswanger received a call alerting them to someone sitting on the edge of a parking garage.
When the officers arrived, the 21-year old Ohio State University student was in the middle of a mental health crisis. In the footage, you can see Neiswanger attempting to connect with the young man hoping to get him off of the edge.
Neiswanager said, "You mind stepping over here and talking to us. I'd just really hate to see you fall."
Training in Use
Officers are trained in tactics to prevent jumpers from going over. Often they try to make a connection with the person and get them talking.
As Neiswanger tries to talk to the man, Merrill is waiting for an opportunity to get him to safety. A couple of minutes go by, and Merrill comes up behind the man and pulls him off the edge.
"This is a fly by the seat of your pant situation."Officer Merrill
For those having a mental health crisis, life can feel hopeless. In this case, this young man was helped in the nick of time by officers.
A crisis intervention team came to the parking garage to evaluate the young man. Many are calling these two officers heroes. However, both maintain they were just doing their jobs.
Merrill said, " Our life wasn't in peril. So that's not an accurate term for us."
Neiswanger boils it down to being human, just like the young man.
"At the end of the day, I'm a husband, a father, a son," Neiswanger said.
Officers Can Help
Many proponents of defunding law enforcement claim that officers are not equipped with the proper training to assist those with mental health problems. Instead, they believe that counselors are better suited for these types of interactions.
These two Stillwater officers have shown evidence to the contrary. Not only were they able to save this man's life, but they were also able to do it simply by just talking to him. Imagine what they could do with additional funding and training instead of less.