Wednesday, June 19, 2024

13 Division Officers Show Compassion

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“Between the three of us working towards the same goal as a team, practicing teamwork, we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses-no egos.We’re all there just to care for this person and help them. We were all able to work to our strengths, and [at the] end of the day, we connected over food; I mean, who doesn’t love food?”

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This is how Constable Mackenzie Karse described the resolution to a person in crisis call in the early afternoon of February 21st.

Karse was first on scene at the Spadina Road Bridge in 13 Division, where the call had been made for someone in a position to attempt suicide.

When he arrived, Karse saw a woman had climbed over the railing and was standing on the ledge overlooking the ravine below.

“Right when I got out of the car there were a few people that were already working together to try to get her back over the railing. When I tried interacting with her she wouldn’t really respond. She kind of told me to stay away when I asked if I can approach her, so I made a baseline of how close I could get to her.”

At this point Constables Wing Yin Kwok and Nicola Kirwan arrived on scene.

Kwok and Kirwan started talking to civilians at the scene and learned that one person heard the woman whispering, and the officers realized there may be a language barrier.

Kirwan credited the training she received from the Toronto Police College to build a rapport and connection with this person in crisis. Kirwan knew not to aggravate the situation, and to continue whatever conversation the woman was comfortable having.

Three Police Officers
Police Constables Mackenzie Karse (left), Wing Yin Kwok and Nicola Kirwan under the Spadina Road BridgePhoto: Brent Smyth

“I approached with my ear out sideways, attempting to acknowledge that I was listening, which allowed me to get quite close”, Kirwan said. “We continued a very light conversation.”

As the conversation continued the officers talked about the lunch they bought just before the call came in. Without hesitation they shared their water with the woman.

“They were incredibly thankful and said ‘that was the best thing I’ve had in four days,’ so it was very basic human needs that we were reaching out for,” said Kirwan.

Officers from the Emergency Task Force (ETF) were providing Kwok with some strategies and what to say and avoid discussing. After an hour on the bridge, ETF took over the situation

“It’s very helpful to have somebody with a lot of experience and more of a third-party approach,” said Kwok. “By that time I had already been so invested in this scenario, so to have somebody give objective notes on what to do and what not to do it was extremely helpful.”

Their Sergeant, Indiran Prashanan, had nothing but praise for the officers’ actions that directly contributed to the woman’s health and safety. Eventually she was taken off the bridge and transported to a hospital.

“They humanized it,” Sgt. Prashanan said.”They were offering water and food, they had their lunch that all three of them just recently bought and were offering the person whatever they could to humanize the situation. It was a police call but they’re trying to take their uniform off and humanize what was going on. I’m very proud of them. They are younger officers too, so to have younger officers coming to the scene being that well-trained and doing a good job. Nothing but accolades.”

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