Police Let Suicidal Man Drown to Save Taxpayers' Money


west.mIt's a horrible story all around. A mom called the police. Her son was trying to commit suicide. He was going to drown himself. But when help responded -- firefighters and police both -- they just stood on the beach and watched 53-year-old Raymond Zack die. What a bunch of jerks, right?

It pains me to say this, but not really. They did the right thing. They protected their city from the lunacy of a litigious society. See, in Alameda, California, police and firefighters are not trained for land-to-water rescue situations because of budget constraints (they're looking into that now).

If they'd entered the water and, God forbid, failed at the mission, they would have left the city up wide open to a lawsuit with merit. These are the kinds of things that bankrupt entire cities, affecting anywhere from hundreds to thousands of residents. We're talking city employees -- like the firemen and police -- but also the residents, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when their taxes suddenly skyrocket to help a city cover its bills, when they suddenly have to find resources to manage garbage collection and the like. In short: total social upheaval ... and all because a few guys disregarded orders to play hero. 

Who's the jerk now?

Studies have proven that even when cops do indeed do something wrong, and the city is successfully sued, it isn't the cop who pays but the taxpayers -- often as much as three times over to cover the damages. The monies generally come not from the police fund but the general fund, which means a reduction in the kinds of services that the average citizen depends on -- again, Tom, Dick, and Harry are getting hit, not the cop who did or didn't do a good job.

These kinds of figures leave cities, leave emergency workers, hog-tied. They're damned by the threat of lawsuits in court if they do. They're damned by the court of public opinion if they don't.

So I'll leave it to you. Should they have gone in to rescue this suicidal man against orders? Or should they have done their jobs?


Image via west.m/Flickr

crime, economy


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jonellg jonellg

I'm not a police woman or a fire fighter. But I do not understand how a human being could watch another human being die and do nothing. Job title is irrelevant.

Khin Maung Maung

Dear Jeanne Sager, The firefighters and the policemen are the jerks. If you think they did the right thing, you are also a jerk. How were you raised? Unbelievable!

buffa... buffalove23

Honestly, the man wanted to die. And until you are actually in the situation, shut your mouth. What's better, one person dying like he wanted to or losing a valuable member of the community bc they could not properly save the man and drowns too?

Domon... DomoniqueWS

Idk, the man purposely killed himself.  I live in norcal, the water will take you, especially if you are untrained and trying to 'rescue' someone who doesn't want to be.  It's a risk, ppl die all of the time on accident in nor cal, you are advised not to go in after because our cerrent is so strong, water so cold that you will die too if untrained.  There are many stories of people going in after their children and never coming back.  I probably couldn't risk it for a man who wanted to die, I'd call the proper ppl to handle it, and it isnt the cops or fire fighters.  We have plenty of Coast Guard Stations here, they are TRAINED to do thiat.

nonmember avatar Jaberkaty

First rule of first responding: Don't make more victims. If you can't safely help someone you are making the situation worse. They are not "jerks" for not entering a potentially life-threatening situation they were neither trained nor equipped for. Don't like it? Pay more taxes.

Leanne Carnegie

It was a suicidal man... a ,grown, well into his 50's man.   He'd been on this earth long enough to know that walking into the bay to kill himself would probably work.   He'd probably also been thinking about it for quite some time.   If it was the police's job to prevent all suicides they'd have to have permanent stations all along the golden gate bridge staffed with good runners and bungee jumping equipment.  I mean, a teenage girl just killed herself by jumping off last week, that's certainly more tragic than this.

They said that if it had been a child they would have gone against the rules and gone in after him/her... but this man chose his fate.  No reason to risk their lives in order to save someone who didn't want to be saved. 

nonmember avatar Annabella

The man wanted to commit suicide. This was his choice. We're all lucky this man didn't take a gun and go on a hate filled shooting spree on his way out like so many others. I'm sorry this man was in a painful emotional state but I'm happy that he's free of his pain now. If there had been a child out there, it would have been saved.

nonmember avatar Priscilla

Morally speaking or humanly speaking? I wish you no ill will but I STRONGLY disagree with you. Hopefully people, besides yourself, are around that care about another human being if any of your family members need help.

nonmember avatar Bookface

The man was going to kill himself. If someone were to go in after him, he might have fought with them and caused them to drown too. If he had successfully been rescued, he would have probably tried the same thing again or some other method. Either way, the man WANTED to die. That's not worth risking other lives over. At least it was a victim-less suicide, unlike many others who kill innocent bystanders before themselves. So ask yourself, would YOU risk your life to save someone trying to take their own?

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