• Starfish Assignment

How Things Can Change

Updated: Apr 23


The following is a guest post from our president and founder, Nicole Banks, who recently did a ride along with Columbus Division of Police Officer Dan Snyder (11 Precinct, South Central Columbus), who led the Assignment to get the brakes replaced in single dad Tom’s vehicle on Black Friday.


We would like to warn you that it is not the usual happy Starfish Assignment material that we post. However, in keeping with the secondary mission of Starfish—to help educate the public about policing—we’ve chosen to include her experiences here.

Just moments after the happy selfie that leads this post was taken, Ofc Snyder was dispatched to a very sad call: a young woman had publicly committed suicide. It illustrates how quickly things can change for police officers. He went from smiling for a picture to hurrying through the streets of Columbus, hoping against hope that he could arrive on time to a scene where he could make a difference. Maybe she wasn’t actually dead. Maybe there was still a chance that he or one of his fellow first responders could be the one who could bring her back. He even commented to me that he’d once been to a suicide attempt where someone had fallen five stories and had survived.


Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here.


We arrived just as the firefighters did. There was nothing to be done for her. Ofc Snyder began interviewing construction workers who milled about the scene, quickly zeroing in on the fact that one man had witnessed the entire incident. That man was a good deal away from the scene, understandably unable to go near her, so Ofc Snyder went to him.


The man took off his safety goggles as soon as Ofc Snyder approached. His face was streaked with tears, and Ofc Snyder calmly and compassionately asked him to describe what he saw. My heart ached for this man, who was simply going about his workday, nearing the end of his shift, who happened to take a break from his duties for a moment and then witnessed something he never imagined he would see when he was driving in for work that day.


My heart also aches for the young woman who never lived to see February 1. Who will never see another spring in Columbus. Who will never be able to obtain help for the demons that plagued her. May she rest in peace, and if she has family, may they have the support they need.

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