GOOD

Hero Cat Ends Suicide Standoff

Suspect bends to the power of feline presuasion

Image via Twitter user @OfficerAlbie

A suicidal man was talked out of taking his own life after a three-hour standoff, when authorities on the scene turned to a long-overlooked peacekeeping resource: the power of cats.


After pulling over a stolen Toyota Highlander on Wednesday, San Francisco police officers were surprised when the driver bolted, climbing to a nearby window ledge and threatening to jump to his death. According to the San Francisco Chronicle officers and passersby gathered, trying to talk the desperate man from his perch to no avail.

Police shut down traffic on the street and contacted the suspect’s family, who showed up with the man’s cat, a handsome but disoriented orange tabby. No one seems to have gotten the commendable feline’s name. But after presenting the kitten to the frantic suspect, in less than 45 minutes the animal managed to do what officers from the hostage negotiation team, traffic division, tactical unit, and motorcycle unit had been working on for hours. The distressed man, clad in nothing but a pair of black shorts, climbed down to safety.

“The hostage negotiators establish a trust with the person, regardless if they are suicidal or a suspect, and you want to maintain that trust as much as you can,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesperson, told the Chronicle. “The guy wasn’t resisting. There was no need not to help him out. Obviously, he had a very emotional attachment to the cat and it was nice to comfort him as much as possible.”

Officers even brought the cat over to the suspect as he was cuffed and put in a cruiser, so he could see his pet before getting locked up. This was a heartwarming case of effective, creative policing and the whole incident raises important possibilities for today’s idea-strapped authorities—what if instead of putting their budgets towards tanks and rocket launchers, our nation’s cops invested in a fleet of negotiation cats to diffuse dire situations? Rather than pulling a gun, an officer confronting a suspect could whip out his trusty, standard issue Siamese, subduing the perp with the disarming witchery of the feline charm. Cats are already known for their power to bend humans to their wills. And this incident points to a talent for tactical efficacy in the field. Just ask Officer Esparza:

“I don’t remember ever using a cat before, but it worked,” Esparza said. “The guy voluntarily came out of the window and opened the door and was taken into custody without incident.”

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