Mukilteo officer awarded for saving suicidal woman
Published on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 by Sara Bruestle
Officer Brenda Greenmun was presented with a lifesaving award.
A Mukilteo police officer’s quick thinking, combined with a calm and caring approach, prevented a tragic end for a suicidal woman.
Officer Brenda Greenmun was presented with the Mukilteo Police Department’s Lifesaving Award on Sept. 6. The award recognized her heroic actions that resulted in saving a life that might otherwise have been lost.
Humbled by the award, the officer said she was just doing her job. She said her only focus was on getting the woman the help she needed.
“It’s something I hope every officer would have done in the same situation,” Greenmun said. “I would expect it.”
Around 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 6, Greenmun was conducting a traffic stop at 164th and I-5 in Lynnwood as part of the Snohomish County Regional Target Zero Team’s DUI patrol when she noticed a woman on the freeway overpass above.
The woman, 46, was threatening to jump in an attempt to take her life.
“I turned back to go to my patrol car, and I saw a subject who appeared to be trying to climb the railing on the overpass,” she said.
“I didn’t know exactly what was going on for sure.”
Leaving her patrol car on the freeway, Greenmun immediately ascended the embankment through waist-high grass to the overpass.
When the Everett woman saw the officer, she begged Greenmun to shoot her. She threatened the officer by mimicking a gun with her hands. She said repeatedly that she wanted to die.
Greenmun held up her hands to show the woman she didn’t have a gun, and continued her careful advance toward the woman. She kept a close eye on the woman’s hands.
The woman kept her eyes on Greenmun.
“I [kept] her attention on me so she wasn’t focusing on what she was trying to do,” Greenmun said.
Through conversation, Greenmun was able to coax the woman away from the railing. With a hand on the woman’s back, she guided her off of the overpass and to safety.
“She was clearly depressed, distraught and just wanted to end things,” Greenmun said. “She wanted me to shoot her.
“I wasn’t going to shoot her.”
Greenmun radioed for help, and several officers were on scene in minutes. The incident was over in about five minutes.
In the woman’s purse was a sealed envelope with a suicide note inside. She told police that she’d been thinking about ending her life for a while.
She was transported to a local hospital for a medical evaluation.
A fellow Mukilteo officer witnessed much of the incident, and nominated Greenmun for the award.
“The actions clearly saved the life of a person in crisis,” Police Chief Rex Caldwell said. “Greenmun was able to maintain officer safety for herself and her partners at the scene… and brought the event to a peaceful end.”
In his 30-plus years in law enforcement, Caldwell said he’s seen the lifesaving award presented three times.
Greenmun has worked for the Mukilteo Police Department for 12 years. She said she’s seen a lot of suicide attempts in her line of work, but this is the first time she’d come across one on her own.
She received a standing ovation during the award presentation at the Sept. 6 City Council meeting.
“I think it’s great to be appreciated,” Greenmun said, “but I didn’t expect any special recognition or pats on the back, so to speak, for doing what I should be doing.”