MPD sergeant awarded for talking suicidal man down off bridge

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee police sergeant was honored Tuesday, October 2nd for talking a suicidal man off a bridge over a busy freeway back in May.

Milwaukee Police Sgt. James Bryce says the man didn't need to be arrested, but just needed help. Because he was able to make that distinction, Sgt. Bryce was presented with an award from the National Association for the Mentally Ill -- Milwaukee chapter.

It was a scene that shut down traffic on I-43 in May: a 22-year-old Milwaukee man dangled from the Center Street Bridge, occasionally smoking cigarettes and threatening to jump.

"These are the types of things that officers do every day and don't get any recognition. I ended up talking to the guy for what ended up being about 45 minutes -- that's my guess. I tried to figure out what he was there, what brought him to that point, where he decided that all that's going wrong in my life, I gotta end it now," Sgt. Bryce said.

Tuesday, the National Association for the Mentally Ill honored Sgt. Bryce -- presenting him with the "Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year" award.

"In Sgt. Bryce's case, he was able to make someone to realize that they didn't want to take their own life, which is hugely important," NAMI Milwaukee Executive Director Peter Hoeffel said.

NAMI says because of Sgt. Bryce's Crisis Intervention Team training, he was able to distinguish the man needed medical help for a mental illness.

He obviously saw that and was able to negotiate that with the individual, to talk them down from taking their own life and saved a life," Hoeffel said.

Sgt. Bryce says his Crisis Intervention Team training came in handy again last week when he convinced a man threatening to jump off a balcony to come down. Over 300 Milwaukee police officers are trained in crisis intervention, and many say they use those skills daily.