Suicide averted, officers awarded

GUILDERLAND — The 9-1-1 call came in from a passenger; the car’s driver was threatening to kill herself, possibly with a gun.

Six Guilderland police officers received Meritorious Service Awards on Feb. 2 for their role in stopping the woman from killing herself, in an incident that occurred last November in the Crossgates Mall parking lot.

The six officers are Lieutenant Eric Batchelder, Sergeant Carl Duda, Senior Patrolman Dan Coburn, Officer Robert Bailey, Officer Robert Ginder, and Officer Russell Tallman.

The woman was sitting in her car, jamming a switchblade into her stomach and asking officers to shoot her, confirmed Police Chief Carol Lawlor.

The woman ignored commands to drop the weapon. Instead, she put her keys into the ignition in an apparent effort to flee.

It was then that officers tasered her, Senior Patrolman Dan Coburn and Officer Robert Bailey both told The Enterprise, in order to keep her from fleeing.

“It was scary, yes,” said Coburn. “One of those incidents no officer wants to go to.”

Albany Police were also on scene, said Lawlor. The call had originated in Albany, said Coburn; the woman had driven from Albany to Guilderland before she was subdued and taken into custody without further incident. The woman had been trying to harm only herself, and not her passenger, said Coburn.

Officers took her to a local hospital for treatment of her self-inflicted injuries, says the statement that Lawlor wrote to commend the officers for their actions.

The Meritorious Service Award is given for an act or accomplishment preventing injury or death.

“Through your actions,” Lawlor wrote, “I am certain a tragedy was averted. I commend you for your actions and thank you for a job well done.”

Officer Bailey has twice before won a Lifesaving Award. The more recent was last fall, for climbing out onto a chainlink fence on Carman Road that stretched over the Thruway’s westbound lanes to save a girl who had climbed over the top of the bridge and was hanging on the other side. Bailey needed to dig his feet into the chainlinks, since there was no ledge, then wrap the girl in a bear hug and inch back to safety with her.

He had a “death grip” on the fence, Bailey told The Enterprise earlier.

Bailey’s first Lifesaving Award came about 12 years ago, for putting out a fire in the engine compartment of a car while a driver and passenger were trapped inside.

The difference between the two awards, Lawlor said, is that, for the Lifesaving Award, “You have to put yourself at risk.” That award, she said, specifies that the officer’s action was done “without regard for personal safety.”

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