A standoff involving a reportedly distraught man perched on the edge of the Linden City Hall roof Monday afternoon ended peacefully following hours of delicate, coordinated negotiations involving multiple law enforcement agencies from across the area, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, Union County Sheriff Peter Corvelli, Union County Police Chief Chris Debbie, and Linden Police Chief David Hart jointly announced.
According to officials, at approximately 1:45 p.m. Monday, a municipal employee who works at City Hall called 911 to report that an unknown individual was throwing papers off the roof of the three-story building on North Wood Avenue and acting erratically, according to the preliminary investigation.
Police did not release how the man was able to gain access to the roof, but sources at City Hall said that the doors are usually open.
Members of the Linden Police Department first to arrive at the scene quickly determined that the man, identified as a 58-year-old Linden resident, was in acute crisis, and the Union County Emergency Response Team (“UCERT”) Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) squad, comprised of specially trained law enforcement officers from various departments across the county, was called in to assist.
Over the course of the next three hours, a total of six investigators with training in hostage negotiation and crisis intervention techniques and tactics – a Captain and two Sergeants with the Linden Police Department, as well as three members of the UCERT SWAT team, a New Providence Police Department Corporal, a Union County Prosecutor’s Office (“UCPO”) Detective, and a Union County Police Department Captain – engaged in talks with the man.
Meanwhile, members of the Linden Fire Department, Port Authority Police Department, and Union County Police Department responded to the scene to assist, while members of the New York Police Department (“NYPD”) Emergency Services Unit (“ESU”) deployed two large inflatable cushioning devices on the ground directly beneath the portion of the City Hall roof where the man stood.
After hours of deploying what ultimately turned out to be successful negotiation techniques, the man was taken into police custody just after 5:30 p.m. Monday. He was subsequently transported to a local medical facility for treatment.
Neither he nor any law enforcement officer involved sustained any injury.
The aforementioned training undergone by the six members of law enforcement engaged in negotiations yesterday included a weeklong FBI hostage negotiation course, New Jersey Crisis Intervention Team (“CIT”) Training, or a combination of both. The CIT course is a weeklong session featuring a curriculum involving classroom instruction, community site visits, and practical exercises delivered by local mental health professionals, CIT law enforcement instructors, and other subject matter experts.
“The Linden Police Department has more CIT certified officers than any other department in Union County. On Monday, UCPO Chief Gagliardi and I were on scene at City Hall to see that training in action. Being cognizant of the mental health needs and challenges of the residents we serve is critically important to the work we do in law enforcement, and I commend LPD, UCERT, and the many agencies who supported them on Monday, for recognizing the importance of such training,” Prosecutor Ruotolo said. “On Monday, we saw a city come together to save one of their own. The expertise, bravery, compassion, and teamwork on display, in Union County yielded miraculous results. The efforts of the men and women of law enforcement kept one another safe on that roof and on the ground, spared the public from witnessing tragedy, protected a family from heartbreaking grief, and saved the life of a man in crisis.”
“We are grateful that we were able to bring adequate resources to bear yesterday, and thankfully, this man will have an opportunity get the help he needs,” Chief Hart said. “It is our hope that everyone in crisis realizes that there are resources available and gets help before taking action.”
Yesterday, Tuesday, September 10, 2019, was World Suicide Prevention Day. Any individual seeking immediate crisis assistance should call New Jersey’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); the Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.