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CT Dispatchers Foil Suicide

Vigilance, Quick Response May Have Saved A Young Prisoner's Life A Day After Another Bristol Teenager Hanged Himself While Behind Bars
July 27, 2005
By DON STACOM, Courant Staff Writer

BRISTOL -- When emergency dispatchers Tricia Eurto and Joe Bachand checked the video monitor of the police cellblock Monday afternoon, they spotted 17-year-old Jose Burgos Jr. acting strangely.

Burgos, jailed on a marijuana possession charge, was taking off his T-shirt.

The dispatchers quickly told a police officer what they were seeing.

Their vigilance and quick response may have saved Burgos' life, preventing the same sort of suicide that another Bristol teenager committed just a day earlier in a state prison in Cheshire, according to police.

David Burgos, 17, of Bristol hanged himself with a bed sheet at the Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire, the state's high-security prison for youths aged 14 to 21. Police said the two apparently are not related.

The Bristol officer alerted by Eurto and Bachand said Tuesday he knew something was wrong as soon as he looked at the dispatchers' video screens.

"It's usually pretty chilly back there, so most people don't do that. Then when I saw him rolling the shirt up, I knew," Lt. Joel Estes said Tuesday.

As Estes ran to the cellblock in the building's basement, Eurto and Bachand alerted a front-desk officer and two other patrol officers who were nearby. Those three officers and Capt. Daniel McIntyre hurried to the cellblock, where they and Estes pulled Burgos loose from the rolled T-shirt that he apparently was trying to use to hang himself.

"He had it rolled and around a bar, but he hadn't gotten his head through it yet," Estes said.

Burgos was unhurt, police said, but was taken to Bristol Hospital as a precaution before being returned to a cell.

"Our dispatchers do a lot, and they stay vigilant," said Estes, who plans to nominate Eurto and Bachand for police commendations.

"They were feeling pretty good afterward, and rightfully so. I'm very proud of them. We have suicide tries probably two to three times a year, but they've always been stopped," he said.

Burgos had been arrested late Monday morning on a marijuana possession charge, and a shift supervisor advised the dispatchers to keep a watch on him while he was in the cell.

Bristol's civilian dispatchers monitor the cellblock and other sections of police headquarters with video cameras, dispatch police patrols, and answer calls for fire, medical and police emergencies.

Chief John DiVenere praised the dispatchers' vigilance. During his 27 years on the force he said no prisoner in Bristol has committed suicide while in custody.

When the police headquarters was built, administrators selected cell doors without horizontal bars and modified several components of the cells to eliminate hazards, DiVenere said.

"We have a camera on every cell, our officers do a suicide risk evaluation when they bring a prisoner in - the last thing we want is anyone to get hurt back there," DiVenere said.
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