Proactive policing saves lives

Posted On Wednesday July 15, 2020
Cst. Dakota Bashford was checking parking lots when he heard someone crying
Cst. Dakota Bashford was checking parking lots when he heard someone crying

*Warning some readers may find the following content about suicide disturbing

Another suicide was prevented, due to the proactive policing officers do between service calls.

On June 25 at about 11 pm, Cst. Dakota Bashford, a four-year veteran with the Ottawa Police Service was on patrol and checking parking lots in the downtown core when he heard a noise that sounded like a person crying. He shone his flashlight around, but saw nothing. Still hearing the sounds, he looked up and saw a woman about fifteen feet off the ground. She was standing under the fire escape platform on a narrow ledge, a strap around her neck.

The officer immediately called for back-up and quickly jumped into action. He began speaking to the woman as he moved towards her. Cst. Brian Emery arrived and he climbed the fire escape while Cst. Bashford spoke to the woman. The only way Cst. Emery could reach her was to lie down on the platform above her, reach through the opening in the metal stairs and grab onto her arm. At that point, the woman leaned forward. He had hold of her, but she was choking.

While supporting most of her weight, Cst. Emery used a utility knife to cut the strap around her neck. “I was worried I would cut her, because the strap was so tight,” he said.

Then Sgt. Nicolas Benard reached the platform to assist. They freed her from the strap but still needed help to pull her up.

Constables Brent Sullivan and Jenna McElravy held the woman up by her feet until Cst. Bashford could get his police car positioned under her. He jumped onto the roof and grabbed hold of her legs to bring her to safety.

The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment.

“I’ve been a police officer for sixteen years,” said Sgt. Benard, “and I’ve never experienced anything like this – an outcome that depended solely on the slim chance an officer would be in that parking lot at that specific time so a life could be saved.  Without a doubt, if Cst. Bashford hadn’t been there, this woman would have died with no one to intervene.”

If you are struggling, help is available. Contact the Ottawa Distress Centre at: 613-238-3311 or 1-866-996-0991.