Buckhannon police officer honored for helping suicidal teen regain hope

During an emotional moment at Thursday's Buckhannon City Council meeting, Patrolman Tanner Collins, at left, and police chief Matt Gregory salute one another after Gregory recognized Collins with the BPD's Meritorious Police Duty Award.

BUCKHANNON — Heartfelt, genuine words of encouragement, a compassionate gesture and a simple effort to show another human being that they’re not alone in their suffering.

All of the above can prove just as effective in saving a life of a person in distress as more traditional law enforcement techniques.

That’s exactly what Patrolman Tanner Collins, a part-time officer with the Buckhannon Police Department, recently demonstrated on an early January day when he responded to a juvenile in crisis in WVU Medicine St. Joseph’s Hospital’s emergency room, police chief Matt Gregory told Buckhannon City Council at its Thursday, Jan. 17 meeting.

Gregory presented Collins with the distinguished Meritorious Police Duty Award during an emotional ceremony in front of council Thursday.

According to Gregory, the event transpired on Jan. 9, 2019, when Collins responded to the WVU Medicine St. Joseph’s Hospital emergency room in regard to a juvenile who felt suicidal.

“Patrolman Collins spent well over an hour speaking with the juvenile and at one point, even had his blood drawn with the juvenile, so that [the person] would feel comfortable enough to talk to him,” Gregory told council in a prepared statement.

“Through demonstrating special faithfulness, attention to duty and perseverance over an extended time, Patrolman Collins was able to talk the juvenile (down) from a state of wanting to kill themselves and not trusting anyone to smiling and talking about their future,” Gregory said. “The juvenile was then able to get the help that they very much needed.

“The type of compassion and concern demonstrated by Patrolman Collins during this incident is precisely the distinction of what meritorious conduct truly means,” Gregory continued.

“It is this type of conduct to which we should all aspire and therefore, I unequivocally commend Patrolman Collins for his actions and award him with the Buckhannon Police Department Meritorious Police Duty Award,” Gregory said, choking up.

Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory commends Patrolman Tanner Collins for his life-saving actions on a recent cold January day.

Collins accepted the award, and following a photo opportunity, the two police officers saluted one another during an especially moving moment.

Following the special presentation, Gregory said he was extremely proud of Collins’ exemplary efforts.

“When I heard about what he had done, I knew I had to honor him with this award,” Gregory said. “It’s really amazing how he was able to help this juvenile.”