‘I honestly owe them my life’
Centerville’s police officers were encouraged to attend town council’s Feb. 28 meeting, but weren’t quite sure why.
They soon learned that Centerville Police Chief Ed Buchholz was surprising one of the town’s officers with a promotion, and giving a Life Saving Award to two other Centerville and Cambridge City officers.
Life Saving Award
Buchholz read a letter from a grateful survivor thanking CPD Officer Dylin Lakes and CCPD officer Jeramiah Lawson for their trauma-responsive care during an early February call. That compassionate response prevented a suicide.
“I was in such a bad place that night that I was having severe anxiety, dissociation, flashbacks and panic attacks, and was dead set on taking my life, no matter the means,” the letter said.
Although Lakes and Lawson had to handcuff the patient for safety because of an “intense desire to die,” they did so without causing more trauma.
“I am grateful that they were not aggressive or coercive, two things that further trigger my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the letter said. “As you may know, trauma-responsive actions are an uncommon response to a mental health crisis coming from law enforcement. As someone who has Complex PTSD and has been working in the mental health field myself, that means so much.”
“If Officer Lakes and (Lawson) had not done exactly what they did and when they did, I would not be alive today and my husband and children would have been completely devastated by the actions that I would have taken.”
Lakes took the patient to Reid Health, and they were then transferred to a behavioral hospital in Indianapolis for more than a week to receive the care “that I very desperately needed,” the writer said.
“You should be extremely proud of the work that your officers do in the community. Officer Lakes truly upholds his oath to protect and serve and deserves commendation as does the officer who assisted him that night,” the letter concluded. “I honestly owe them my life.”
Cambridge City Police Chief Richard Roberts also attended the meeting to watch Lawson be recognized.
Lawson is a relatively new hire for CCPD. He was hired for a full-time role in March 2022 after several months as a reserve officer.
“I was not surprised by the professionalism he showed during the encounter they were honored for,” Roberts said. “He has the right perspective, temperament and compassion for situations like this with his prior background of working in a local hospital and dealing with individuals going through similar situations almost on a daily basis.”
Roberts said that Lawson represents his department and law enforcement very well with his dedication and service to the public.
“I would be remiss without mentioning all the other law enforcement professionals in this county, this state, or across this country that do this job day in and day out without formal recognition,” Roberts said. “I believe this award represents them all.”
After the presentation to Lakes and Lawson, Buchholz announced he was awarding a promotion to Josh Millsaps to become a sergeant, and presented him with a new, shiny badge.
Millsaps currently serves the department as the school resource officer for Centerville-Abington Community Schools. When school isn’t in session, Millsaps covers patrol shifts.
While Buchholz’s department is facing a staffing shortage, Millsaps has volunteered to help “with a lot of things he didn’t have to,” Buchholz said.
If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call 988 or visit 988lifeline.org to access free and confidential emotional support resources.
A version of this article appeared in the March 8 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.