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Lansing detective receives ‘Life Saving Award’ for de-escalating potential suicide

Lansing detective David Bell successfully negotiated with Calumet City man threatening to harm himself

By Noah Johnson

LANSING, Ill. (May 15, 2021) – A Lansing detective was given an award this week for de-escalating a potentially deadly situation in April.

Detective David Bell, who’s been a police officer for 20 years and a detective for five, received a “Life Saving Award” for his efforts during an incident that saw a man barricaded in a Calumet City home with a knife to his chest.

On April 7, the man was involved with a domestic battery incident and then was threatening his own life. Detective Bell was asked to assist with the situation. He has served with the South Suburban Emergency Response Team, which he said is like a S.W.A.T team. He also has been trained in hostage negotiation.

When he arrived on the scene, Calumet City police officers were in the doorway of the house trying to get the man to come out. Bell worked toward that end as well, using different negotiation tactics to build a rapport with the man and get him to drop the weapon.

Negotiating toward safety

The thing that helped de-escalate the situation further was getting the man to think about the people who loved him in his life, including his son.

“When you deal with situations like this, when people are threatening their lives or others, they’re not thinking about tomorrow or any kind of value to their lives,” he said. “So when you try to exercise different negotiation tactics, you’re trying to help him see that his life is valuable and if that doesn’t work you have to go a different route.”

When Bell brought up the man’s son, the man started to listen more closely and become more cooperative. Bell also allowed the man to see his son through the doorway.

After 30 to 45 minutes of negotiating, Bell convinced him to drop the weapon and come out of the house.

Rewarded for success

When asked what went through his mind during the situation and others like it, Bell said “making sure no one is hurt.”

“Even though I’m listening and talking to him, the main goal is to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself and doesn’t hurt me and any of the officers around me,” he said. “Basically you have to think about two, three, four things simultaneously,” he added.

Lansing detective
Interim Police Chief Rick Slough (right) presents the “Life Saving Award” to Detective Bell. (Photo from LPD Facebook page)

It not only felt good that no one was hurt during the incident but that he was rewarded for his efforts, Bell said.

“I felt really good to receive (the award), because that showed me that my department cares about officers that are able to do things like that, so it was good to be recognized,” he said.

The Lansing Police Department is located at 2710 170th Street Lansing, IL. For emergencies, call 911. For non-emergencies, call 708-895-7150.


Noah Johnson
Noah Johnson
Noah Johnson is a journalist from Dolton, Illinois. In addition to the reporting he has done for The Lansing Journal, Noah has covered issues in Northern Illinois, North Carolina, and suburban Cook County. In his free time he enjoys listening to podcasts, cooking, and journaling.