Four Hampton police officers earned special recognition for their efforts during an early February incident involving a woman who attempted to take her own life, according to a press release from the Hampton Police Department.

Chief David Hobbs awarded the Hampton Police Department Lifesaving Medal to Sgt. Andrew Jowett, Det. Sgt. Stephen Champey and Officer Justin LeDuc. Sgt. Timothy Hamlen received a commendation for his role in the February 4 response on the Route 101/Interstate 95 overpass.

Hobbs honored the officers during the March 22 Board of Selectmen meeting in Hampton, and in his remarks, he highlighted the officers’ exemplary work during a challenging time for many people.

“We are tasked with responding to people in mental health crises more and more,” the chief said. “This serves as a reminder of the positive impact that we can have on people’s lives. While we see many people at their worst, you never know what someone is going through.”

According to the news release, the incident began when Leduc observed a vehicle stopped in the breakdown lane on the Route 101 overpass near Interstate 95. He pulled in behind the vehicle and noticed a woman standing on a snowbank against a fence on the edge of the bridge. It became clear, police said, that the woman was having a mental health crisis. Jowett, Hamlen and Champey arrived soon afterward. After roughly 90 minutes, the woman lost her footing, and Jowett was able to safely tackle her and bring her to safety.

The woman was taken to a medical center for treatment, the police department noted, and nobody was hurt during the response.

LeDuc’s citation noted his intelligence and quick thinking used to save the woman.

“Officer LeDuc maintained a dialogue with the female while simultaneously requesting additional support to help with the female who at that point had made her intentions to jump from the bridge to commit suicide known,” the release said.

Champey and Jowett’s awards highlighted their experience as crisis negotiators, and the efforts they made to keep the woman calm during a tense, difficult time. Jowett earned praise for his actions to corral the woman as she began to slip.

“Taking prompt and decisive action, Sergeant Jowett was able to lunge toward, and tackle the female, bringing her to safety,” the release said.

Hamlen’s commendation notes his efforts to establish command and control of the incident and his coordinated response to keep the area safe during the response.

“This is an example of one person going through a difficult time that they don’t feel like they have anybody to turn to and nowhere else to go,” Hobbs said. “It just shows you how difficult of times we are in right now. I think this serves as a good reminder for us to check on each other. Check on your neighbors, check on your friends.

“You can think you’re having a bad day, but somebody is out there could be struggling a little bit more. Continue to support one another,” he continued. “It does go a long way when you hear from your friends.”

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, Hampton police want you to know that you are not alone and that help is available. Anyone experiencing a crisis is encouraged to seek help immediately through your local behavioral health provider, police department, fire department, or hospital. Resources also are available by dialing 2-1-1 in New Hampshire.

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