Gulfport police negotiators save man's life with words

Gulfport police negotiators save man's life with words

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The scene looked chaotic Wednesday on the Kremer Bridge in Gulfport. Behind the barriers and with emergency lights as a backdrop, Officers Luis Garcia and Josh Bromen calmly and methodically saved a man's life. Not from an accident, but from himself. And not from talking, but from listening.

Garcia was the lead negotiator.

"It's not really stressful at the time," Garcia said. "We train so much that it's almost like being in training, but after the fact, when you start thinking of everything else, that's when it kind of draws on you a little bit. Because, it could have gone either way."

Police responded to the scene around 12:45 p.m. and found a man with a rope-like object tied around his neck and tethered to the bridge.

The officers initially go through training with the FBI and then do monthly training within the department. Gulfport police have had an active negotiation team since 2000.

Both officers have had three years in the department's five-person negotiation team. As a practice, they rotate responsibilities.

On Wednesday, the two officers got the lead duty, both for the first time.

"I did feel relieved once he was getting the treatment that he needs, but I don't see it as a victory. It's just something that we do," said Garcia.

It was Bromen's job to watch Garcia. They negotiated for an hour and a half.

"I wouldn't say there was satisfaction, as much as it was a validation of the training is correct. The training is working," Bromen said. "As a negotiator, a lot of people think it's about talking. It's about listening. Most of these people...nobody's listened to them. Nobody's taken the time to listen to them. This is the worst day of their life."

It was a validation as well for Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania.

"Yesterday was a big day," Papania said. "It's a big day, because Gulfport police officers saved a life."

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