Hero officers intervene, save the lives of two suicidal men

Hero officers intervene, save the lives of two suicidal men

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - How much of your time is worth spending to save the life of a person who makes it very clear they don't want to live anymore.

You and I might have the option of putting a number to that question. Your Savannah-Chatham Metro Police officers do not.

The answer for them, "whatever it takes."

Proof that every life is worth saving and that every cop has to be ready to jump into what can be very emotional negotiations, at the drop of a hat.

There are usually only two possible outcomes when a person is set on ending their life.  They succeed, or someone with just the right approach, the right body language, the right tone of voice steps in and turns hopelessness into reason.

On Tuesday, reason won out for a man threatening to leap from the Bryan Street Parking Garage.

Two Metro police officers, one a rookie, created a lifesaving rapport with the young man and eventually met an unusual demand during negotiation. The distraught man wanted a cigarette as a condition of him considering coming off the six-inch ledge.

"The terms were that he could finish it on my side of the wall," said Officer Christopher Ameduri. "So, I told him I hadn't lied to him. We kept up our terms this whole time and there's no reason to go back on it now."

Talking someone off the ledge isn't always pretty, but the ending here was perfect.

"Officer Jenkins can testify that I was exhausted after this and it was just a pure adrenaline dump," Ameduri said of the experience.

Just the right approach, the right body language, the right tone also came in handy when officers Matthew Jackson and Tony Farmer made the last minute decision early Saturday morning to check out the Talmadge Bridge. The two came upon a car pulled over on the bridge and a man standing along the edge of the concrete barrier.

"We want to help you. That's what we're here for," Officer Farmer explained to the man.

The man was ready to leap 150 feet to the freighter deck below. Farmer took control of the conversation, where control can require a thousand different approaches.

At SCMPD headquarters, Farmer explained what he was thinking at that moment.

"They say I have a stone face when I talk to people at times and it seems to be pretty intimidating to people at that point. But I realized I may be doing that."

Farmer continues to talk to the man on the edge.

"You can't be shy in asking for that help. That's the biggest thing with a lot of men. They don't know how to ask for help. They figure they got to do it on their own.  That's not the case."

This is a trained officer, yes. Not a trained negotiator. Farmer told reporters later he tried to relate some things through his own life and his experiences to get the man off of the bridge.
"What can I do? What can I do?" Farmer continues with the man. "Come on man. You need a hug or what, what? Talk to me. Come on brother, talk to me, man.  It is right here brother. It is right here man."

In the end, once again, hopelessness gave into reason.  For all the second-guessing these men and women face every day, most have your best interests at heart.  Most don't walk away from shifts like these without wondering.

"We were actually thinking about that today, actually go by and say hi and see how he's doing," Farmer said a few days after the shift.

Officer Justin Jenkins was the rookie with Officer Christopher Ameduri on the Bryan Street Parking Garage.

"When he came out he was just balling, crying.  He was thanking us on the way to the hospital for everything we've done. We're here for him. That's what we're here for everyone that needs us," said Jenkins.

Also, important to remember, these officers have the right to make it home to their families each night as well.

Perhaps these are not the most glamorous or exciting examples of police work in Savannah, but consider this, in the period of a few short days, the lives of two men were saved because these officers had just the right approach, the right body language, the right tone of voice.

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