First Responders Spotlight: OCSO deputy responds to mental health call, saves young man’s life

First Responders Spotlight

CANANDAIGUA, NY (WROC) — Road Patrol Deputy John Torlish with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office helped respond to a call from a panicked parent recently. The man said his son was lost and having a bi-polar episode. 

“And I just had a feeling the way the father was talking to me, I could just see in his eyes, he was legitimately upset, and a fear that his son was going to harm himself,” says Torlish.

Torlish took off to track the man’s son down. He says the most important thing to do when responding to mental health emergencies, is to show compassion.

“You don’t know what they’re going through on and everyday basis. Some of us might have a bad day, but this person might have a bad day every day. It’s important to feel for this person,” he says.

Torlish not only did his job as a deputy, he also stuck with the person in the next county until the boy’s father arrived, and helped come up with a plan to get the young man the proper help needed. 
“A majority of the men and women who wear the badge who go out and serve their communities are like Deputy John Torlish,” says Sheriff Kevin Henderson.

Sheriff Henderson says it’s important to point out that law enforcement is more than just slapping on handcuffs. There are teams of deputies who deal with mental health emergences and substance abuse cases across the region. 

“It’s not just out making arrests or writing tickets. That’s part of the job. People have to be held accountable. We all do. But it’s important that people know that such as Deputy Torlish, they do a fantastic job and I’m proud of what they do,” says the Sheriff.

Sheriff Henderson says the father of the son having the episode called here to express his thank you for Torlish’s care that day. The father said he expected the absolute worst.

“You saved my son’s life that day. He goes, ‘I really think he was going to do something bad to himself,'” says Torlish.

Torlish was touched by the gifts from Dunkin’, but says he was just doing his duty.  “I try to treat everyone the same way, and I just did what I thought was right,” he says.

Deputy Torlish has received multiple other honors in his law enforcement career, including the Paul Harris Rotary Award for service above others.

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