MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Two Miami Beach Police officers are being hailed as heroes after they talked a man out of making a deadly decision six stories above ground.
Desperation played out on top of a building located at 1041 Collins Ave., Wednesday.
Body-worn camera video and video from Only in Dade captured the man, whose legs at one point were dangling from the edge of the roof, as he threatened to take his own life.
He would be up there for hours, as were the Miami Beach Police officers tasked with talking him down.
“As I was coming up, I could hear him yelling,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Julio Blanco.
It’s in situations like this when the police department’s crisis intervention specialists are called.
“We were talking to him for an hour,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Noel Castillo.
Castillo is the lead trainer for the Hostage Negotiation Team.
“When we first got here, his feet were over the edge,” said Blanco.
Blanco is a 20-year veteran with the Hostage Negotiation Team. The officers on Thursday took a 7News took us to where they saved a life just a day earlier.
“And he was talking about jumping,” said Blanco.
Blanco and Castillo put their 30 combined years as negotiators to work.
On most days, their job isn’t about helping hostages, but about convincing someone in crisis to take a second thought about their dire decision and to not harm themselves.
When asked if he sometimes has doubts as to whether he will be successful in preventing a suicide, Castillo replied, “Absolutely, those thoughts run through your mind, but you’ve got to compartmentalize it.”
“It’s step-by-step,” Castillo continued. “We start with listening, some rapport building, but you’ve just gotta be patient.”
It’s what they duo did on Wednesday here, as seen in images provided to 7News.
“When I first saw him, I recognized him,” said Blanco.
Blanco knew the victim from his time as a neighborhood resource officer and had gotten him help. Their past interactions helped establish trust.
“We get enough experience coming out here, over and over again,” said Castillo.
It would help the officers get the man to safety and then the hospital.
“People hear ‘de-escalation,’ they think of it more like a verb as opposed to an noun,” said Castillo. “It’s not something you do to somebody. It’s not a Jedi mind trick; it’s a process.”
Just before Blanco and Castillo talked him off the edge of the roof, the man asked for something cold to drink, so the officers gave him milk.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available on the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988. You can also contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at NAMI.org.
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