Police lieutenant helps save life

NILES — Police on Dec. 11 saved the life of a man who was threatening to jump from a radio tower near Stevens Park.

Police were called just after 7 a.m. to the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District property, where a suicidal man had climbed the tower. Police Chief Jay Holland said Lt. Dan Adkins, who is trained in crisis negotiation and intervention, was able to persuade the man to come down after about an hour.

The man, 26, of Niles, was taken to an area hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Adkins, 51, an 18-year veteran of the police force, said the man climbed about 50 feet up the tower and was hanging over the railing, poised to jump.

Adkins, who previously dealt with crisis situations as a member of the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team, said his training kicked in and from the ground he began to develop a rapport with the man.

“You have to have patience and empathy for what they are feeling and just not give up on them,” Adkins said, adding that listening more than talking is the key.

The man was eventually persuaded to sit on one of the tower bars, Adkins said, and after a while, he came down.

Holland said the situation was tense and the man could be seen several times loosening his grip as he leaned out from the tower. Holland said a passerby reported a man was climbing the tower — typically not a good sign because the man not calling police himself likely meant he was determined to end his life.

“If Dan wasn’t there I think there’s a good chance this situation would have turned out differently,” Holland said.

Holland said Adkins will receive a Police Chief’s Letter of Commendation for his work.