LACY LAKEVIEW, TX — Many police departments have been feeling the heat after a year of social unrest, including tragic stories like those of Texas men Michael Dean and Patrick Warren, who were shot and killed by police officers.
Departments such as the Lacy Lakeview Police Department say while hearing of officer-involved shootings is unfortunate, their department uses those cases as lessons on how to better serve the community.
"The badges that we wear are a symbol and the trust in the communities that we serve. We have to listen to them and what their needs are and how they want us to police. We're in this to make the world a better place, to save lives," said Police Chief John Truehitt.
Chief Truehitt says because they have a small team, all officers are trained on how to handle a variety of calls, including mental crisis situations.
In November 2020, the department received a tip about a 27-year-old man who was on Facebook Live threatening to take his own life.
"It was gut wrenching. Tears were coming out. He was in crisis. I thought any minute he was fixing to actually kill himself as we were watching," the police chief recalled.
Thanks proper training and the department's initiative to get to know the community, two of the officers knew the man. Due to the bond the officers had previously developed with the man, they convinced him to put down the gun and were able to get him help.
"We know a lot of our mental health consumers that are in our community. We deal with them a lot. They deal with us a lot so they can establish that trust factor before a critical incident happens," explained Chief Truehitt.
On Tuesday, five officers and a dispatcher were given a Life Saving Award for their professionalism and compassion that ultimately helped save the man's life.
"A day where we don't have to arrest somebody or we can save somebody, I mean that's a win," said Morgan Ray, a dispatcher with Lacy Lakeview PD.
Ray says in any 911 call, it's crucial you give your dispatcher as many details about your emergency as possible in order to get the proper help.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is available. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.