OSUPD officer receives lifesaving award
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
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On the morning of April 19, the world stopped for Senior Police Officer Leslie Grotheer. The 12-year Oklahoma State University Police Department veteran had pulled to the top of a parking garage to check on reports of a young man straddling the top rail, one leg dangling stories above the street below.
Grotheer had been serving as an OSUPD detective for several years before returning to patrol in February. She’s been trained as a crisis negotiator for six years, but five days before she encountered the suicidal teen at the top of the garage, she had taken training specific to this very situation.
“Hey buddy,” she called, getting out of the patrol car. “If it’s OK with you, would you mind bringing your leg back over the wall?"
He considered her request. And then he pulled his leg back.
She thanked him, and gingerly closed some of the distance separating them. She asked if he would sit down on the ground — they could just talk if he would sit down. She knew if he would get off the ledge and sit on the parking garage floor, everything would be OK. They could figure it out together from there.
He thought about her second request, then slid to a sitting position.
She remembered a story she heard from the training and took a chance.
“I said, ‘Is it alright if I give you a hug?’ He shook his head yes, so I bent down and hugged him. He started sobbing into my shoulder and told me everything that was going on and why he was there.”
He was 18, although not a university student. He was heartbroken and overwhelmed.
Grotheer said she’s not a “hugger,” but at that moment it seemed an appropriate way to show some compassion to a struggling young person. She listened, and explained what would happen. With the help of the Crisis Intervention Team — a two-man team with an OSUPD officer and Stillwater police officer who specialize in calls involving mental health — they would work out a solution and get him help.
For her actions, she received a Life Saving Award from the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.
Grotheer said she “definitely won’t forget” the encounter that day, but she struggles with the recognition, including the award.
“It’s just me doing my job,” she said. “Anyone else would have done the same thing.”
“This is a great example of what we strive to be at the OSU Police Department,” said Chief Leon Jones. “She was the right officer at the right place and at the right time. Her willingness to care and show compassion to this young man made all the difference.”