Hey CHP, Change Your Policy!

Users let their posts do the talking and we asked the CHP for answers

In response to Tuesday’s closure of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a number of people commented inside our story about the way the California Highway Patrol handles suicide threats on the popular span.

The common theme of the comments was a change in CHP policy regarding suicidal people on the bridge.

  • “Guess all the ppl going on with their daily lives to and from Coronado means nothing to authorities,” posted WiseGuy.
  • “I work on the Navy base in Coronado and it took me and fellow co-workers almost 3 hours to get home last night,” posted MV. 
  • “There are limits and this went far beyond any semblance of reasonable limits,” posted Wayne.
  • “Tho you can't put price on this guy, think of the late payments to child care providers, appointments missed, deliveries not made til late and all the toxic emissions of people waiting...not counting the people who had to use the bathroom while waiting!!!” posted Jim S.  

 We took a few of the comments and suggestions on policy change and presented them to Brad Baehr, CHP spokesperson.

 User comment:  "In this economy, this individual almost affected near-term cash flow for me and my children. I have strong empathy for troubled people, but I believe the CHP needs to have lanes open."

CHP: "Unfortunately, there are going to be people inconvenienced more than others. Again, we're on a bridge, we're at a significant height that's a very dangerous platform for us. There is no safe zone, there's no shoulders, there's nowhere for us to do anything other than to work in that environment. We try to minimize the impact to traffic as much as possible however, if someone was to fall off the rail into traffic and we didn't have it shut down they could be injured as a result of that."

User comment: "Why don't they put a net under the bridge for these type cases and when they get up there on the rail you can give them 5 minutes to get down, if not the net comes out from under the bridge they shoot them with a stun gun and they fall into the net, the net drops down to an awaiting boat and haul them off. "

CHP: "In a perfect world, if someone did jump and you could capture them so to speak, but when you are up there and you look over the side, you realize the magnitude of what you're dealing with. Absent of having some kind of catch that was literally from I-5 to Coronado, I don't see how that can be a functional way to approach the problem that exists up there."

User comment: "The solution to this problem, A police chopper , a bean bag launcher and sharpshooter from the SWAT team. Just knock the jumper back onto the bridge to the awaiting police and charge them for all of the emergency services they tied up and probably the millions of dollars in lost work hours and wasted gas."

CHP:  "This is a lifesaving effort, we're doing our best to minimize and juggle all the factors involved. Saving someone's life potentially and minimizing the impact on those individuals involved, the motorists."

User comment: "Why don't you just run up and grab him?"

CHP: "In the heat of a battle, when people are in an altered mindset a lot of things can go bad and the margin for error up there is very minimal. It's one of those things we are trying to carefully balance and trying to tactfully approach these situations and do what will result in a successful deescalation."

In the Coronado Bridge’s 39-year history, 236 people have died in suicide falls from the span, according to our partner voiceofsandiego.org. They called the bridge one of the deadliest “suicide bridges” in the United States.

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