For the sake of all involved, we are not going to name specific officers who were called to the scene we’re about to describe. Their actions, nonetheless, were absolutely heroic under what may only be depicted as immensely stressful circumstances.
Several officers and a sergeant were called to the parking lot of a local dentist’s office. A man, Black, was on Kearny Avenue, walking with an open bottle of wine. We’d later learn, through proper channels, he was experiencing a “mental health crisis.” It appeared he was under the influence of something — and he was very loud, erratic, animated. His arms flailed in every which direction.
From a distance, it was obvious — he was not in a good frame of mind. From a distance, we watched it from beginning to end. From a distance, it was unnerving and difficult to witness. From a distance, it caused us fear.
Despite that, what we saw was also one of the finest examples of police work we’ve ever seen, because a situation that was hostile, a scenario that leads to recurring nightmares, was unfolding — and the Kearny Police Department handled it what we’d think was textbook style.
One officer in particular, who later would say the incident was “just another day on the job,” engaged the man, asked him personal questions and really got to know him — and just what it was that led him to have such a terrible day.
Another officer slyly removed the large wine bottle that could easily have been used as a deadly weapon. And so what started out as a lot of yelling and screaming — chaos, frankly — concluded with the man in question stepping into an ambulance, on his own accord, for transport to an area hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
What could have been a bloody, deadly situation instead ended with not a single physical injury.
What many likely would have expected to turn into another “us v. them” situation was, rather, a fine example of modern policing that was something we believe every police officer would have benefited from seeing.
We later learned the techniques deployed were based on recent training mandated by the Attorney General’s Office. Not only did the training clearly work, it was exemplary.
We take this time to commend every officer on scene that day for their incredible patience. They didn’t realize they’d be on the spot when they got to the scene, with people standing by, watching. But that is exactly what happened and they handled the situation with professionalism, class and dignity — for themselves, the department, the community and the person experiencing the mental crisis.
This situation, one that could have wound up deadly, with blood shed, instead ended with a man getting the help he desperately needed instead of heading to jail where he’d get no assistance — and all involved officers going home to their families hours later. In a world where the police too often needlessly suffer from poor reputations, we were more than proud to know “our” officers went home safely that day.
And they did their extremely hard jobs really damn well.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.