Officers Put Lives At Risk To Prevent Woman’s Suicide
An incident involving a distraught person near Florence two weeks ago ended safely.
The following is a press release from Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman:
"On Sunday, April 17th at approximately 7:00 PM Ravalli County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Jones responded to a report of a 26-year-old Missoula woman who was threatening to commit suicide.
"The call had come in to Ravalli County 911 from a member of the Missoula Police Department who had taken a report from the suicidal woman’s sister. The Missoula officer was able to make phone contact with the woman, and with the help of Missoula County 911 was able to determine an approximate location for her. Deputies were told to respond to the Sweeney Creek area southwest of Florence. Deputy Jones requested assistance from Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Bennett who was closer to the scene."
"Sgt. Bennett located the woman shortly before Deputy Jones arrived and was able to engage her in conversation, which continued after Jones reached the scene.
"The woman was sitting at the edge of a cliff and had a .38 caliber revolver sitting next to her on a rock. At some point, the woman became aware that other officers and emergency responders were approaching the scene, and told Jones and Bennett that if any other law enforcement people arrived, she would either jump from the cliff or shoot herself. Jones was able to tell other deputies to stage further down the hill and to not show themselves as they approached."
"Over the course of more than one hour, Jones and Bennett continued to talk to the woman, asking her to move away from the cliff edge and offering her help. Finally, the woman did move a short distance from the cliff edge, and sat down to text her sister, though the handgun was still fairly close. Jones and Bennett agreed that the woman had reached a point where she had made the decision to end her own life, and saw an opportunity to take the woman into custody before she did so. As they quickly approached her, she was able to roll on top of the weapon and a struggle ensued. The woman had managed to pick up the weapon underneath her, and told both officers that she intended to fire the pistol. Other officers were alerted to the struggle and moved in quickly to assist, but not before the woman fired a shot. Jones and Bennett reported that while they were unable to immediately disarm her, they were able to keep the pistol pointed away from themselves and the woman. However, when the pistol was discharged, it was close to Deputy Jones’s ear.
"Deputy Jones was treated and released for an injury to his knee which occurred during the struggle, and it was determined that there was also no serious injury to his inner ear.
"The woman, later identified as Kaitlyn Rocco, of Missoula was remanded to the Ravalli County Detention Center on four counts of Negligent Endangerment, and two counts of Criminal Endangerment. Rocco, who was not injured in the incident, was seen by mental health professionals once she was in custody."
Sheriff Chris Hoffman credited both MHP Sgt. Bennett and Deputy Jones with saving the woman’s life. He said that Deputy Jones credited Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training, a training program developed in a number of U.S. states to help law enforcement officers react appropriately to situations involving mental illness or developmental disability. Hoffman commended both officers for acting with patience, courage, and according to their training, saying that they were able to recognize the valid nature of the threat and respond to it positively when given the opportunity.