NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Two New Haven Police Department officers are being recognized after helping a resident in distress.
The New Haven Police Department posted on social media that while on patrol on January 13, two officers were alerted to a man in distress who was about to jump off the Ferry Street Bridge.
Body camera footage from Officer Daniel Evans captured Officer Shane Wityak talking to a man in distress on the Ferry Street bridge. Wityak says the man called police saying he felt suicidal and wanted to jump.
First responders arrived without emergency lights or sirens, then established a connection with the man for about 15 minutes.
“Once I was able to get him to walk away from the ledge he was on, it was a huge relief,” Wityak said.
Wityak said the man wasn’t aggressive, but he still had to de-escalate the situation. That’s when his police training kicked in.
“The fact that he got to this point where he was considering what he was considering, it was just huge to be able to dip into that training,” Wityak said.
According to the department, Officer Shane Wityak used his Crisis Intervention skills.
What wasn’t part of the training was what happened next. A request that Wityak says he’s never received in his nine years on the job.
“He actually asked if he could have a hug,” Wityak said. “So, the last thing you want to do in that situation is turn someone away. He was looking out to me in there, so just to be able to open up and give it to him, I think, was huge for him.”
The encounter meant a lot to Wityak too.
“Just to the point where he was able to feel vulnerable enough to ask for something like that, it just means that I was able to do what I went there to do,” Wityak said.
Wityak says he responds to mental health calls almost every day, but not one like this. He plans to follow up with the man to see how he’s doing.