Here’s a piece I had covered in October 2011. It never got published, though it did give me some valuable experience in dealing with police.
Springfield Police Defuse Suicide Attempt
Springfield police prevented a suicide attempt on Thursday afternoon in downtown Springfield.
The Springfield Police Department received a call that a man at the Madison Tower High-Rise at 421 W. Madison St. was threatening to jump from his window on the eighth floor.
Matt Brown, Springfield Police Department public information officer, could not confirm who the man was.
“We were originally called because there was a tenant that was refusing to leave the room. We became involved because he threatened to kill himself,” Brown said.
The police responded to the call at 10:30 a.m., forming a perimeter around the building and clearing spectators from the park next to the building.
Shortly after 12 p.m., the Springfield Special Response Team arrived on the scene and armed themselves in bulletproof vests and protective gear.
Two SRT officers and one police officer went onto the roof and lowered a pole containing a flash bang and dropped it into the window shortly after 1 p.m. The flash bang exploded like a gunshot with a bright flash of light, distracting the man inside, while a team inside retrieved the man.
“We don’t go into tactics on what the SRT does,” Brown said. “The only thing that we would confirm is that large bang that you heard. That’s a flash bang and that’s just a method of distraction to where we can go in and safely get him.”
The man was then brought out on a stretcher but was taken off and put in a police car. Brown said he was being taken to the hospital where he will be held for 96 hours for evaluation.
“The only thing that’s different about this than a standard suicide attempt is that SRT was called out and that we went in to get him,” Brown said. “Other than that, they’re pretty cut and dry. We just go in and talk them out and as soon as they come out, we take them to a local area hospital.”
Working on this story was a big step for me. I literally just walked into it. I had gotten off of the bus to go back to my apartment, and saw a couple of police cars around the building as I walked by, so I had to get details. Being the first media person on the scene, I was immediately on my own. I had never covered anything like this, so I had to adapt quickly. I learned a lot while covering this incident, thanks to Michael Gulledge, the photo editor of the Standard.
One thing I realized was just how right some of my teachers were about the issue of being a good reporter vs. being a good person. I think it is possible to do both, you just have to know where to draw the line. The job of a journalist can sometimes expose you to some very terrible things, but you still have a job to do. As long as you do your job and stick to your morals, I think you can handle the job. The job of a journalist can be like a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs, but that’s what attracts us to the job.
I had to get to class afterwards, so my article wasn’t written until that night, but the experience gained was more than worth it. I don’t really know what happened to the man after going to the hospital, which is what they had intended, but I truly hope he is doing well. I also want to say good job to the Springfield police, for their timely manner and doing the right thing. This could have been a much darker story if not for them.