FORT BEND COUNTY

Deputy constables receive life saver awards after preventing teen suicide

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 7/30/21

Three deputies with Fort Bend County Constable for Precinct 3 Chad Norvell have been recognized for their actions which led to the prevention of a 17-year-old young woman’s death. Officers …

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FORT BEND COUNTY

Deputy constables receive life saver awards after preventing teen suicide

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Three deputies with Fort Bend County Constable for Precinct 3 Chad Norvell have been recognized for their actions which led to the prevention of a 17-year-old young woman’s death. Officers Gregory Markovsky, Bryan Steffen and Roger Castillo worked cooperatively to prevent the teen from jumping off the top of a parking garage on July 7, Norvell said.

“I appreciate everyone for coming out,” Norvell said at a July 28 award ceremony. “We don’t get to honor officers often enough. And the media – the way things have gone for law enforcement – we’re often the most hated (and) the most needed on the same day, as Paul Harvey said once.”

The incident that led to the three deputies being honored began with a report of the young woman sitting on the ledge of the top floor of a LaCenterra parking garage. Officers were dispatched to the scene and Castillo engaged her in conversation. Markovsky and Steffen were then able to come up behind her and pull her to safety and begin connecting her with resources through the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office’s Crisis Intervention Team.

“Honestly, you know, it was difficult,” Steffen said. “It was scary. I’ve been to other suicides before where you get on the scene and it didn’t work out. Fortunately, you know, this time, we get there (and) I came up behind her. She never saw me. Trying to talk her down, I didn’t feel would be a very good idea because then she would know I was there. So, I grabbed ahold of her (and) was able to pull her off (the ledge). Markovsky was able to help me kind of calm her down a little bit.”

Norvell said the parking garages at LaCenterra have a history of suicide attempts and that the shopping center’s management is planning to make adjustments to the facility to help prevent further suicides. Two people have taken their lives at LaCenterra parking garages and two other attempted suicides were prevented, he said.

“I want to also add, we have been meeting with LaCenterra and they are proactively working to find solutions to prevent this in the future. Hopefully, with some restrictive barriers on top of their garage if that’s possible. They’re working with their engineers to see what they can attach to the garage.”

LaCenterra also provided lunch for the awards ceremony in appreciation of the officers’ intervention in the young woman’s suicide attempt.

Lieutenant Jerome Ellis with the FBCSO Crisis Intervention Team was also on-hand at the ceremony and said he appreciated the three officers’ work in stopping the teen from killing herself. Ellis said he and his team have a focus on compassionate law enforcement that focuses on deescalating situations where area residents are in a mental health crisis. Intervention, he said, includes follow-up with the people his team interacts with to ensure they are connected with the services and resources they need to improve their situations.

“We respond to mental health crises and partner with any agency in Fort Bend (County), whether it be a municipality, constables office, EMS – we partner with everybody,” Ellis said. “And we assist in that de-escalation. And then, if appropriate, divert from the criminal justice system with that community member and try to usher them into the mental health system.”

Ellis said he and his team also work with nonprofits in the area to ensure the person in crisis gets connected to whatever is needed to get their lives straightened out.

The process of connecting people to resources is a cautious one and involves compassion, he said. People experiencing mental health strains need to be approached with respect and consideration, as well as the realization that they’ve been through some sort of trauma.

As an example, Ellis said the family of the young woman that was helped by Markovsky, Steffen and Castillo would likely be contacted by telephone first, then additional follow-ups would commence as the family was comfortable with the situation. The long-term goal is to ensure she is healthy and able to improve her situation.

“Crisis intervention is really just a commitment to compassion,” Ellis said. “And it takes two things – effective leadership and great partnership.”

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