Officers from 43 Division and the Emergency Task Force (ETF) used their training and patience to safely bring a person in crisis to hospital.
Consts. Zack Melerowicz and Preston Rauh-Wasmund were the first officers on the scene on Nov. 20.
“We went to the rear of the building where we saw a person in crisis yelling from the seventh floor balcony where we learned he had thrown furniture, clothing and books before we got there,” said Melerowicz. “He was still throwing items down when we got there. At that time, we made the decision to have other officers attend.”
After their first interaction with the man, Rauh-Wasmund said it was evident he needed help.
“When we went upstairs, he went into his apartment and barricaded himself,” said the officer who spent his first four years at 54 Division before transferring to 43 Division in 2018. “It’s always tricky with a barricaded person, so we had to be cautious.”
Sgt. Darren Ma, who joined 43 Division six months ago after spending eight years with Emergency Management Public Order, acknowledged the professional manner in which his officers handled the situation.
“The male also made an utterance that he wanted to kill himself and when they got upstairs, he was causing quite a commotion and still in a state of crisis,” said the veteran officer who has responded to many high-risk incidents.
“The problem our officers had was that this person wasn’t talking at all. They kept reaching out and doing all the things they were supposed to do, using their tactical communication. They were talking through a door and not getting any verbal responses. Our officers were there for about 30 minutes and it was really uncomfortable. The last thing, however, we wanted to do was escalate the incident. Getting him to hospital for the help he needed was the ultimate goal.”
It was at that point that Ma decided to summon the ETF for assistance.
“We immediately began crisis negotiations with the male,” said Supt. Colin Greenaway. “Simultaneously, a tactical plan was developed by the team that addressed concerns that if the male either exited his apartment into the hallway or gained access to his balcony.”
After almost two-and-a-half hours engaged in crisis negotiations, there was an impasse.
Concerned for the male’s safety, the ETF entered the apartment.
Greenaway said the male was located hiding in his bedroom.
“While ETF negotiators were speaking with the male, he removed a curtain rod and appeared to be using it as a weapon,” he said. “The male then made an attempt to escape out the seventh floor window.”
At that point, the ETF deployed a Taser in an attempt to stop the male from climbing out the window.
“That was ineffective, so a Blunt Impact Projectile round was deployed to the male’s body,” said Greenaway, noting the officers had to take physical control of the man who continued to resist being taken into custody.
He was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and brought to hospital for treatment.
Greenaway said the crisis negotiation and tactical response of officers was second to none.
“Both the mental health and physical health of the male were of paramount consideration to the responding officers,” he noted. “If it wasn’t for their patience and eventual quick action, the male would have fallen to his death. The COVID pandemic has made it much more difficult for families and the medical profession to monitor the mental health of family members or patients and, as a result, the ETF is repeatedly called upon to assist frontline officers in the safe dealings of those in need.”