New Bedford Police Captain Calms 12-Year-Old During Crisis
Being 12 years old is not easy. Last week, a New Bedford child was overwhelmed with everything she was facing in this world. The young girl was having some issues in school and on social media.
The thought of going to school weighed so heavily upon her that she dropped to the floor that morning and refused to move. Curled up in a ball in the corner of her kitchen, she became unresponsive to her mother, hiding her face in her hands. As she sat there on the kitchen floor, she was in crisis mode, paralyzed by her emotional turmoil.
New Bedford Police and a social worker arrived on the scene, but were unsuccessful in getting the girl to move. She wouldn't talk. She wouldn't communicate. She wouldn't move. Needless to say, her mother was very concerned.
Enter New Bedford Police Captain Derek Belong, the Station 3 Commander in the North End. He was determined to make a connection with the girl. "I have a 12-year-old of my own. I kept trying to think about how I would respond to him if he was going through an episode like this. I wanted to form a connection with her." Belong sat on the small kitchen floor with her for over an hour. Finally, he was able to get her to answer yes or no quesitons non-verbally by shaking her head.
"She had her hands covering her face and her head tucked between her knees. I was able to convince her to take my hands," says the 19 year police veteran. "I was trying to gain her trust. I needed her to know I wasn't going to hurt her or arrest her."
After hours on the floor, Belong was able to convince the girl to stand up and move herself over to the couch. "I told her that the floor was starting to hurt, and I asked her if it was hurting her, too."
Once on the couch, the girl started to talk with her mom again. The two of them fell asleep comforting one another. Social workers have since constructed a plan for wrap around services.
Captain Belong's display of leadership and empathy showed the girl that there are people in this world who really care about her.
"Captain Belong came to my home with a crisis counselor to assist my daughter. Captain Belong was more compassionate and patient with my daughter than I could have ever hoped for. I cannot even being to express my gratitude for the kindness and support he showed to us both." --Name withheld
Captain Belong says he made a new friend that day. "That's why I'm a cop. It's not about accolades. It's all about helping people authentically and seeing something positive come out of it. That's what I signed up for 19 years ago when I took that oath."