Tip of the hat
When lives are saved in silence
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 21:10
I am often confronted by people who ask “What do you do as campus security guards … do you have the same training as ‘real’ policemen?” I am often quick to point out that the Purdue University Calumet police officers are “real” policemen and not security guards, and each member receives the same training as police anywhere.
I was asked that question Oct. 12, and I had to pause. Only moments earlier, a member of the Purdue University Calumet police engaged in a “police action” that quite probably saved a woman life. Actions like this go unspoken and credit is not given to the men and women that serve this campus and go the extra mile to ensure that student and staff needs are met and lives protected. Here is the most recent story.
At approximately 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, a young female Purdue University Calumet student came to the police building appearing distressed. Though she gave permission to use her name, I will only refer to her as Student Irons. Student Irons was visibly distressed because she received text information from another friend, regarding a former classmate and long-term friend who was contemplating suicide by jumping from a bridge somewhere in Chicago. Alarmed, Student Irons texted her troubled friend and asked “…what’s going on…” The friend only replied by texting back “Goodbye.” Student Irons strongly believed that the young friend was going to follow through with her threat and Student Irons was at a loss on how to prevent it. All she could think of was to go to the Purdue University Calumet police for help.
Student Irons could not tell the university officer where the distressed person was in Chicago. Irons did not have a home address or any information to locate her. In addition, the troubled person was not a Purdue University Calumet student. There are some people that would have suggested that there was nothing the Purdue University Calumet police could do under the circumstances. Information was limited and the information concerning the threat of suicide was through a third party – and not from the supposed troubled girl.
Purdue University Calumet Detective Sergeant Leo Finnerty received Student Irons and began culling as much information as he could. They tried calling the troubled woman through the telephone numbers appearing with her text. Efforts were made to contact AT&T to track the phone. Wow, a human voice could not be contacted through AT&T. Finally, Detective Finnerty asked the Chief of Police, “…do you know anyone in Chicago police that can help?” It was a long-shot, but I made a call to a friend with Chicago Police. They referred me to their Crisis Intervention Team specialist. The CIT officer worked with Detective Finnerty. At approximately, 11:30 a.m., the troubled woman was found and being taken home. Chicago Police specialists were directed to her location to complete the intervention. A life saved, no media, and a Purdue University Calumet student was breathing easier because her friend was safe.
It would have been easy to suggest to the Purdue University Calumet student that this was not a matter for the Purdue University Calumet police and send her packing to one of the 21 districts in Chicago, among its 35 square miles of city. From a management point of view, it was not our problem.
In early September, a mother came to the Purdue University Calumet police to report that she dropped her daughter off at the CLO building. The mother always picks up the daughter at a specific time and on this date the daughter was missing, according to the mother. The mother repeatedly called the daughter’s cell phone and there was no answer.
Purdue University Calumet police officers Pat Tracy and clerk/dispatcher Sherry Velasquez attempted to quiet the hysterical mother. It was late evening and the mother feared something tragic had occurred to her daughter. For privacy reasons, I will not be specific about the daughter’s identity or surrounding circumstances. Officer Tracy and Officer Paul Webbcombed the campus to no avail. The mother eventually calmed down and remembered reasons why the daughter may have headed to Chicago. The mother begged officers to take her to Chicago to rescue her daughter. The Purdue University Calumet officers eventually contacted the Chicago Police District and a supervisor agreed to meet with the now hysterical mother. That evening the mother’s daughter, a Purdue University Calumet student, was discovered in a medical emergency and rescued by Chicago Police. The daughter was taken to Chicago’s Jackson Park Hospital to recover. The intervention also resulted in numerous arrests.
So what do Purdue University Calumet police do? The do some pretty darn good stuff in silence. I tip my hat to all of them.