His distraught state of mind prevented him from realizing the message went a continent away, to Fleetwood, Berks County, and to the attention of police Chief Steven Stinsky.
Stinsky engaged with the teen on Facebook Messenger.
“I started looking through social media,” Stinsky recalled. “I ended up finding the subject’s Facebook page, and based on the vernacular he used in conversations, it wasn’t long before I realized he was actually across the pond in Fleetwood, England, not Fleetwood, Pa.”
Recognizing the person was in crisis, the chief continued to build a rapport with him, while at the same time getting in contact with his counterparts overseas.
“All the things he was giving me, the places he was going, I was relaying either through email, through phone calls or through text to the police in Lancashire,” said Stinsky.
“Very rarely do we get someone who is in crisis now and we are relying on someone who is in another country doing crisis interventions on our behalf,” said Chief Inspector Gary Crowe with the Lancashire Constabulary in the United Kingdom.
Stinsky’s conversation with the teen lasted for three hours before he was safely taken into custody to get help. It was a feat that earned Stinsky the U.K.’s highest honor for law enforcement, the Chief Constable’s Commendation.
Crowe said, to his knowledge, he doesn’t recall another time the award was given to someone outside of the country, but he said the most important thing is that a life was saved. Stinsky agreed.
“Someone who was in crisis, someone who was vulnerable and had nowhere else to turn, even though they’re in the U.K., were able to reach out to a U.S. police officer, and they still did the right thing,” Crowe said.
“It doesn’t really matter if I’m texting somebody inside a house across the street or texting somebody across the ocean,” said Stinsky. “When everybody is rowing the boat in the same direction, good things happen.”