John Blair, Public Service Chair for the George Washington Chapter, presented the SAR Life Saving medal to Alexandria Sherriff Deputies Jason Bebow and Julio Ocasio. On November 21, 2019, Deputy Jason Bebow and Deputy Julio Ocasio were working at the Adult Detention Center when their actions resulted in the rescue of an inmate. Deputy Bebow and Deputy Ocasio were on duty in the booking area and were on their way to handle pat down searches of inmates returning from court for the day. As they walked down a hall, the deputies, always vigilant, took care to look through the windows of the cells that they passed. Deputy Bebow, with Deputy Ocasio just behind him, was passing by a cell when he noticed that an inmate had strips of a torn wool blanket wrapped around his neck. Both deputies immediately entered the cell and removed the tightly wrapped blanket pieces from the inmate’s neck.
Deputy Ocasio called for medical personnel and a supervisor to respond to the cell. Before help arrived, the deputies laid the inmate on his mattress and because he did not respond to them, they began chest rubs. Soon the deputies noticed that the inmate’s chest was rising and falling, and they could feel a heartbeat. When the medical team arrived, they checked the inmate’s vital signs and further evaluated him. He was eventually placed in a safety smock for his own protection and he would receive appropriate medical and mental health services. It was evident to the deputies that this inmate had the means and intention of taking his own life. If not for the quick response and life saving measures demonstrated by both deputies, this incident could have had truly tragic results.
Also, on October 28, the SAR Life Saving Medal was awarded to Alexandria Deputy Sheriff Devon Neckles and Alexadria Police Officer Shakita Warren. On October 11, 2019, Deputy Devon Neckles was assigned to serve civil paperwork for the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office and was on the street in his marked cruiser. A call was dispatched to Alexandria Police to “check on the welfare” of a resident who did not report to work as required. Officer Shakita Warren indicated that it would take her some time to get to the location, just off Richmond Highway, as she was coming from the West End so Deputy Neckles, who was nearby, volunteered to assist because he recognized the seriousness of the call and how far away Officer Warren was. Being the first unit on the scene, Deputy Neckles contacted the individual, who appeared to be unnerved by the presence of a uniformed deputy. Drawing upon his skills and training as a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) member and instructor, Deputy Neckles began to use certain techniques to help guide his interaction with the individual, and after having the man step outside his apartment, he learned that the man was upset about losing his job. Officer Warren, also trained in CIT, arrived on the scene and began speaking with the man while Deputy Neckles followed up with the man’s former employer who had initiated the call. All three then went inside the apartment so they could speak in private, and the man sat down on the couch. Officer Warren noticed a letter and the man told them it was a “goodbye” letter he had just finished. Deputy Neckles inquired how the man was planning to commit suicide and the man stated that he was going to shoot himself. He admitted that he would have done so if Deputy Neckles hadn’t arrived on the scene when he did.
Both the deputy and the officer learned that the man had two handguns and he told them where they could find them. Deputy Neckles went into an adjacent bedroom, found the loaded handguns, and emptied them for their safety and for safekeeping.
They explained to the man that he would need to get help and he agreed to go voluntarily to Inova Alexandria Hospital for evaluation. He has since been cleared by mental health professionals and reunited with his family out of state.
Officer Warren later told Deputy Neckles’ supervisors that had he not arrived when he did and convinced the man to come out of his apartment, the outcome would have been very different. The man himself said that had Deputy Neckles arrived even moments later, they would have found his body. If not for Deputy Neckles’ initial alertness and proactive approach, and the quick response, crisis intervention training, and life saving measures by both Deputy Neckles and Officer Warren, this incident could have had a much different and tragic outcome.
Submitted by John Blair