Published April 29, 2021
We recognize the great work that the employees of the University at Buffalo Police Department have performed during the first quarter of 2021.
For their heroic efforts to save a suicidal woman
On February 11, 2021, at approximately 0200 hours, Officers Catherine Guzman and Jay Lawrence proceeded to check on a vehicle in Governor’s C parking lot after Officer Guzman noticed it had been parked there with the engine running for approximately two hours. The officers discovered a female asleep in the back seat of the vehicle with the doors locked and the engine running. Officer Guzman was able to wake up the woman and attempted to engage her in conversation to see if she was okay. The female appeared agitated, kept the doors locked and would only open her window slightly. Officer Lawrence informed Officer Guzman that there was a bottle of lighter fluid on the front seat. The officers also noticed a strong odor of gasoline coming from inside of the car. Upon further inspection, they observed that there was a pair of scissors, a lighter, and a large bucket that appeared to be filled with gasoline in the rear of the vehicle where the woman was seated. Officer Guzman immediately instructed UPD Dispatch to call for a fire department and first aid response for a potential suicide attempt in progress. The woman ignored the officers’ requests to unlock the doors as she moved to the driver seat. As the woman began to engage the vehicle’s shift lever, the officers could hear the doors unlock.
Shortly after they opened the doors, the woman shifted the car into drive. As Officer Guzman grabbed for the keys to gain control of the vehicle, the woman reached into the back seat, dumped the bucket of gasoline onto herself and retrieved the lighter. Officer Lawrence was able to pull the woman from the vehicle as she was attempting to activate the lighter, and Officer Guzman used both hands to try to prevent the lighter from sparking as gasoline soaked into her uniform during the struggle. Officer Lawrence was eventually able to help Officer Guzman extract the lighter from the woman’s grasp without the gasoline being ignited. The woman was successfully restrained until an ambulance arrived. She was treated at a local hospital and eventually, was able to return home under the care of her family.
Both officers placed themselves in grave personal risk to successfully prevent a suicide, and it is an honor to name Officer Catherine Guzman and Officer Jay Lawrence as our Officers of the Quarter, and to nominate them for the 2021 SUNY Police Chiefs Association Heroism Award.
On February 12, 2021 shortly after 1 p.m., Lieutenant Kevin Will was working on the UB South Campus. He observed a male collapse on the sidewalk outside of Harriman Hall. Kevin Will called for EMS and started first aid efforts on the victim. Medical staff from the Harriman Hall COVID 19 Vaccination Site responded and started CPR. Lieutenant Will and medical staff continued CPR and deployed and AED. The victim regained consciousness and was transported to a local hospital.
While recovering from an off-duty injury, Officer Guy Harvey has been working on a project to digitize and catalog department arrest records which date back to the early 1970s. On January 27, 2021, Officer Harvey was scanning an arrest record from 1971, when he noticed a pattern of behavior committed by a suspect that we had been arrested for multiple sex offenses on the UB South Campus in January of 1971. Officer Harvey saw clues in the arrest records that pointed to an active sexual predator. Officer Harvey conducted further research and determined that the suspect served prison time in New York State in the 1970s and then seemed to drop off the grid. He also determined that the suspect is currently a registered sex offender in the State of California, where he is in violation for failing to register. Officer Harvey investigated further and was able to locate the offender living in the southern tier area of New York state. Working with the Chautauqua County Sherriff’s Office and California Sex Offender Registry, Officer Harvey was able to connect the suspect’s current address and biographical data with the responsible Sex Offender Registry authority for further follow-up.