John Blair, the Chapter’s Public Safety Awards Chair, attended the Sheriff’s Office monthly staff meeting on September 4 to present the awards with Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and dozens of proud colleagues in attendance. Mr. Blair read the following citation and then awarded Deputy Eloy Reyes, Deputy Steven Hand and Deputy Ashley Battle (right) with Law Enforcement Commendation Medals for their actions and teamwork that kept an inmate experiencing a mental health crisis from seriously harming herself.
On December 15, 2018, a female inmate had a mental health crisis while attending recreation in the detention center gym. Deputy Hand entered the gym and noticed the inmate alone, crying and acting abnormally. Due to the inmate’s apparent mental instability, Deputy Hand made the decision to contact his supervisor and then escorted the inmate to the medical unit to be evaluated. Deputy Hand’s immediate interaction and keen observation skills set in motion the need to keep a closer watch on this individual who was undergoing some difficult times while incarcerated. She was moved to a cell where on duty deputies could more closely monitor her.
Deputies Battle and Reyes were just two of the deputies working in the booking area that night, but Deputy Battle was already aware of this particular inmate because she had interacted with her the day before. During their shift, while monitoring various camera feeds, Deputies Battle and Reyes noticed the same inmate had covered the light inside her cell. Deputy Battle entered the cell and told her to remove her blanket from the interior light. Deputy Battle used her training and interpersonal communication skills while she spoke with the inmate.
Later, in the early morning hours of December 16, the inmate was observed covering the security camera located inside her cell. Both Deputy Battle and Deputy Reyes quickly made their way into the cell with the expectation of having another verbal intervention. What they observed was something different. They found the inmate lying down on the floor with a torn bed sheet wrapped around her neck and tied to the toilet in what was believed to be an attempted suicide. Both deputies acted quickly and untied the bed sheet to relieve pressure around the inmate’s neck. The inmate then told the deputies “You came at the wrong time.”
Once she was out of immediate danger and the sheet was removed, the inmate was seen by medical staff and placed on suicide watch protocols. Both deputies advised that the bed sheet was tied extremely tight and that the inmate had the means and intention of taking her own life. If not for the vigilance, quick response, and life saving measures demonstrated by all three deputies, the incident could have had a much different and tragic outcome.
After presenting the deputies with their certificates and medals, Mr. Blair surprised Michele McCarty, Technical Services Director, with a special presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation for her ongoing assistance to the Chapter in coordinating the awards (below).