Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Victoria, BC – Patrol officers and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), including Crisis Negotiators, successfully de-escalated a dangerous situation with a person in crisis on the Johnson Street Bridge on Saturday evening.
At 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 24th, Patrol officers responded to a report that a person was standing on top of the Johnson Street Bridge. Callers reported that the person appeared to be in distress and was yelling and making concerning statements. Officers arrived and located a person standing on one of the support structures on top of the bridge. In an effort to keep everyone safe, and help de-escalate the dangerous situation, officers closed the Johnson Street Bridge to vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Nearby roads were also closed.
Patrol officers, who had arrived first on scene, began to work to de-escalate the situation while officers with GVERT and Crisis Negotiators deployed.
Given the high-profile nature of the incident’s location and the impact of the road closures in the Johnson Street Bridge area, VicPD notified our community. Given that the incident involved a person in crisis, our team worked to keep the community informed while protecting the person’s privacy.
VicPD also reached out to partners including the Victoria Fire Department, B.C. Emergency Health Services, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. The waterway underneath the Johnson Street Bridge was closed during the incident.
Crisis Negotiators worked for several hours, listening to the person in crisis on the bridge and speaking with them.
As officers learned more about the person, they built connections based on shared experiences, using empathy and understanding to help build trust. As officers learned more about the person’s community, they reached out to the person’s supports and worked with them to create a team of people to help resolve the incident safely.
At the request of the person in crisis, officers connected them with the supportive members of their community whom officers had reached out to. They mirrored officers’ approach by responding with care, compassion and trust to build a plan for the person to come down from the bridge to safety. Together, negotiators and the person’s supports were successful in convincing them that officers were there to help, would help keep them safe and would get them to care.
Just before 8 p.m., the person in crisis climbed down from the support structure and walked off the Johnson Street Bridge into officers’ care. Officers apprehended the person under the Mental Health Act and transported them to hospital for assessment, where they were admitted to care. Both roads and waterways were opened and the public was notified that the incident had successfully concluded. As officers left the hospital, the person thanked them for their help.
There were no injuries and no arrests.
About GVERT Crisis Negotiators
Crisis Negotiators are members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team. While VicPD officers have crisis intervention and de-escalation (CID) training which is re-certified annually, Crisis Negotiators have significant additional training and expertise. Crisis Negotiators have extensive training in trauma-informed approaches to crisis de-escalation and many years’ experience working to resolve incidents safely. In addition to their regular duties, Crisis Negotiators serve as an on-call resource, responding 24-hours-a-day across Greater Victoria to police incidents. These calls often include barricaded persons and armed persons in crisis. Utilizing a variety of communication techniques, Crisis Negotiators work to build rapport and trust to help resolve incidents through dialogue. Crisis Negotiators are utilized in the majority of high-risk critical incidents which involve GVERT.
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