ELKHART— Cpl. James Ballard was headed home when he heard a dispatch of a distraught male threatening suicide on Cassopolis Street near the toll road earlier this month.
At that point, being off duty was irrelevant to Ballard. The 22-year veteran officer with the Elkhart Police Department was the first responding officer to the scene and took charge of the situation, Chief Chris Snyder said.
He talked to the male and was able to get him the help he needed over at Elkhart General Hospital.
For his hard work and dedication, Ballard was commended at the Elkhart Police Merit Commission by his colleagues and superiors Monday morning.
Praising Ballard, Snyder told the commission, “I think this just goes to show a lot of different things, first of all, the importance of the take-home car policy, (James) was able to respond and make the area safe for everybody in the surrounding area as well as the person he was dealing with.”
“Second, to show the dedication that our police officers have,” he continued. “Even though it was out of his way, it was close to where he was at and he was able to have a positive outcome for this.”
After the meeting, Ballard said being recognized by peers and the Merit Commission is always a “wonderful feeling.” But for him, the greatest feeling is being recognized by the public.
In this case, he said, the parents of the individual he helped called him personally after the accident.
“They are personal friends, but I did not know the individual in distress at the time was their adult child,” he said. “They thanked me for saving their child and were in the room when I was recognized by the Chief and Merit Board. That personal connection filled my heart with a lot of emotion.”
Speaking on his work philosophy, Ballard said, he believes his duty is to “serve each and every one of our citizens.”
“I believe in servant leadership 24/7 and after 22 years, I am 100 percent invested in our community,” he said.