GRANITE SHOALS, TX (KXAN) — Granite Shoals Police Officer Tim Edwards received a challenge coin Friday for getting a veteran mental health treatment when he was about to end his life two weeks ago.
Air Force veteran Larry Guynes says he has struggled with depression and anxiety. The medication he was taking didn’t sit well with him and he contemplated killing himself.
“I called the suicide hotline,” he said. “I was on the phone with them and unknowingly they called Officer Edwards in.”
Edwards was dispatched to Guynes’ home.
“When I saw him, I instantly saw somebody who was looking for help,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the lessons he learned from crisis intervention training kicked in.
“He was standing in his front yard on his phone when I walked up,” Edwards said. “I just gave him the opportunity to speak, let him tell me what’s on his mind.”
Guynes didn’t feel threatened by Edwards, saying he was quiet and calming.
“My focus immediately shifted,” Guynes said. “I wasn’t thinking about harming myself any longer. It was immediate. It was astounding.”
“He had a plan,” Edwards said. “I believe he would’ve went through with it if we would not have intervened that evening.”
Guynes was the one who handed Officer Edwards his challenge coin. Etched on the back is the quote “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid,” by former President Ronald Reagan.
Chief Gary Boshears says the department began de-escalation training prior to a state law requiring all new peace officers to undergo 40 hours of crisis intervention training.
“We really felt like that was important to be able to handle difficult situations,” he said.
Within the next year, all eight officers will be certified in additional mental health training, Boshears said.
“If you just know how to talk to people, you can talk your way out of bad outcomes,” he said.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement says more than 650 officers have completed crisis intervention training since the law went into effect in April. Lawmakers approved the requirement after the “Fallen” investigation by KXAN found police agencies in the state had lacked training when it’s dealing with officers facing someone experiencing a mental health crisis.