A man in crisis climbed a traffic light in San Francisco. It took 5 hours to help him

On Friday morning in the Tenderloin area of ​​San Francisco, a man who appeared to be suffering from a mental crisis climbed to the top of a traffic light, leading to a response from several city departments that stretched for more than five hours.

Police who arrived at the scene at the corner of Ellis and Leavenworth Streets told The Standard that the man was known in the area and had previously climbed a lamp post. The latest incident lasted about three hours, officers said.

A San Francisco police officer watches on Friday as a man in distress sits at a traffic light in Tenderloin. | David Schoestedt/Standard

San Francisco’s problems with mental health crises have been well documented in recent years as calls for help increasingly tie up the city’s public safety resources. The city has street-based crisis response teams that help people in a state of mental illness, but this task often falls on the shoulders of the police.

The San Francisco Police Department currently has a little over 1,500 officers, but the city says enough officers will be closer to 2,100.

Mayor London Breed has called for $27 million in overtime to patrol police, which has met with resistance and support from members of the Supervisory Board.

A woman who works across the street from the scene on Friday said a street crisis team nearly knocked a man off a road pole at one point. However, the police arrived as the man was descending, and he got scared, she said.

Video posted on twitter shows how in the early morning a man dropped the cowl cover from a traffic light.

As the police and nearly two dozen people on the street watched the man scream, members of the Chief Medical Examiner were seen nearby entering the Senator Hotel, a single-occupancy building. The office is collecting corpses in the city.

Shortly after 2:00 pm, a man on the corner yelled at a man in distress and offered him $20 if he got off the traffic light. He told the man that the children were going to pass by on their way home from school.

On Friday, after a five-hour standoff, a man was arrested after climbing a traffic light in the Tenderloin area. | David Schoestedt/Standard

Isaac Perkins, a local resident, arrived soon after, and it took him no more than five minutes to coax the man down. He said he simply told the man that he loved him and that there were people who cared about him.

According to Perkins, the presence of the police was the reason the situation dragged on for so long.

“It’s intimidation,” he said. “I wouldn’t go down either.

The police took the man into custody, put him in an ambulance, and life in the Tenderloin continued.

Josh Cohen can be reached in [email protected]
David Schoestedt can be reached in [email protected]

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