A Toronto Police officer credits the training he received with helping to de-escalate a situation and bring a man into custody who was threatening suicide from a hotel rooftop on August 14.
When Constables Mark Woo and Narinder Luthra responded to a disturbance call around 8 a.m., they found a man in crisis near the edge of a rooftop.
A sole occupant in one of the hotel rooms, the man had earlier called the front desk for an unknown medical complaint. When two security officers knocked on the door, offering their assistance, the man yelled at them from behind the door to get away and he threatened to slit his throat.
The security officers stepped away from the door and called police.
“When we got there, he wasn’t in his room,” said Woo, in his 29th year with the Service. “We discovered he had broken into another room and then jumped through a window onto a rooftop. He was ranting and raving and very distraught.”
The officers stayed in the room that he had broken into and tried to convince him to climb back through the window he had broken to gain access to the rooftop.
“He was in crisis and what he was saying didn’t make any sense,” Woo said. “I realized that his hand was cut and he was bleeding, so I tried to focus on the injury by telling him that we were there to help him.”
The man gradually warmed to the idea.
“I told him we would take him to the hospital and, as he moved from close to the rooftop ledge and near the window where we were standing to show us his injuries, I was able to grab his right hand and my partner took hold of his left hand,” said Woo. “Once we held on to him, we convinced him to pull himself up through the window.”
As part of the mandatory annual In Service Training Program, police officers are offered training on how to effectively deal with emotionally disturbed people.
“I did the training last October and it certainly helped me in this situation,” said Woo. “The most vital part is the scenario-based training that’s not scripted and you go through various processes on how to deal with situations.”
Woo also praised his partner for the role he played in helping to resolve the situation peacefully.
“I did most of the talking, but it was the teamwork that kicked in and was critical to the successful outcome,” he said.
The accused was taken to hospital as a mental health apprehension and later charged with damaging windows and furniture at the hotel, where there was extensive damage. Officers recommended the man face charges before a mental health court where the judges, crown, duty counsel and mental health workers work in a coordinated fashion to ensure a person takes responsibility for their actions and receives proper treatment.