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Port Authority ‘suicide squad’ officers ordered not to pull potential bridge jumpers to safety

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The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River in New York.  Credit: John O'Connell.
The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River in New York. Credit: John O’Connell.


Port Authority officers who patrol the George Washington bridge for suicidal jumpers have been given orders forbidding them from physically grabbing people who are attempting to jump, leading to a quandary between ethics and orders.

The order -which was issued Monday- forbids officers assigned to the “suicide squad” from pulling people to safety, instead having to wait for the Emergency Service Unit to arrive.

This order has come only one day after the New York Daily News reported that the “suicide squad” saved 70 people last year, without even wearing fall harnesses.

The officers are torn between their orders and their sense of doing the right thing.

“We took an oath to protect people,” one Port Authority Police Department source said. “We are going to prevent the loss of a life if there is something we can do about it.”

The Port Authority Police union has requested harnesses for police on the bridge, fearing officers could fall off the bridge trying to save people.

Meanwhile, PAPD Superintendent Michael Fedorko ordered an ESU truck be located at the Hudson River span 24/7.

Port Authority Police Department spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said the ESU vehicles would have “police officers trained in the use of harnesses during rescue efforts.”

“This follows the guidelines of other agencies that ESU personnel be called to handle such situations,” Pentangelo said.

 

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