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Four RGP officers commended for saving two lives

Four RGP officers have been recognised for their handling of two situations where two individuals attempted to take their own lives.

The officers received a commendation from the Commissioner of Police, Richard Ullger, on Monday.

The first incident happened last Christmas when officers were called to a property in town and told a UK national had assaulted one of his friends which was an act of aggression that seemed completely out of character.

The other friends explained the man had already left the flat but they were very concerned about his mental state, the RGP said in a statement.

PC Casey Azopardi-Francis stayed with the friends to gain additional information while Acting Sergeant James Quigley went outside to look for him.

Within 10 minutes, Mr Quigley had found the man who, by then, was in the darkness of roof terrace and they began talking.

“The police officer carefully ensured that parts of the conversation could be heard on the police radio,” the RGP said.

“On hearing this, Mr Azopardi-Francis sent for a trained negotiator before going up to join Mr Quigley who, by this time had established a good rapport with the man.”

After about 20 minutes, the man was persuaded to receive medical help.

Following the incident, Mr Quigley said: “I listened to the man as he told me about all the difficult issues in his life and I followed the plan that I’d been trained to follow.”

“I’m pleased to say that it proved to be effective.”

The second incident took place earlier in the early hours of August 6 when officers patrolling Casemates Square and noticed the light from a mobile phone high on the Northern Defences.

At almost the same moment, they heard on their police radios that a man was in the area of the Jungle and threatening to commit suicide.

Acting Sergeant Chris Catania and PC Darrell Oliveira immediately made their way up to the man, who had been drinking.

The officers called up for one of the RGP’s trained negotiators and for an ambulance to be on standby.

“In my 11 years in the RGP, I’ve attended quite a few attempted suicides but on only two occasions was I totally convinced that the person intended to go through with it,” Mr Catania said.

“And this was one of those occasions.”

The two police officers relied on their training as they slowly approached the man in the pitch dark, the RGP said.

“They reduced the volume on their radios, explained that they would do all they could to help him and listened to him as he explained all the many problems in his life,” the statement added.

“They then offered him a cigarette – but he didn’t smoke.”

At that point, the man’s phone rang.

It was New Mole House wishing to pass on a message from his ex-partner.

“He then leant forward to give me the phone as he wanted me to speak to them and, as he did so, Mr Oliveira grabbed his arm and I was able to grab his head...” Mr Catania said.

The officers handcuffed the man for a few minutes before they were able to walk him down into Casemates after which he was taken to St Bernard’s Hospital to be assessed by a mental health practitioner.

Commissioner of Police, Richard Ullger, said: “In recent months we have been dealing with fewer attempted suicides but, whilst fewer in number, these incidents have tended to be more serious.”

“Whilst we do have specially-trained negotiators, all of our officers are good at inter-personal communication.”

“In fact, it’s an essential skill for a police officer.”

“However, on these two occasions, our people did particularly well and I was delighted to present them with their commendation certificates today.”

“It is also worth pointing out that, whenever they deal with traumatic events such as these, our officers are debriefed and, if necessary, provided with advice and support from professional counsellors.”

EEDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to correct an error in the time reference relating to the second incident.

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