Port Authority Police Officer Awarded CIT-NJ Center of Excellence Officer of the Year

Today Crisis Intervention Team New Jersey (CIT-NJ) Center of Excellence hosted their 2nd Annual Forum. To date, 2,161 Law Enforcement Officers have been CIT trained throughout New Jersey. The CIT-NJ Center of Excellence Officer of the Year award was presented to Officer Juan Guzman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department. Bergen County CIT is honored to know and have trained, Port Authority Police Officer, Juan Guzman (CIT class #88).

(Left to right) Amie Del Sordo, Bergen County CIT Mental Health Coordinator and Director of 262-HELP, Bergen County Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program; Officer Juan Guzman, Port Authority Police Department; Kristine Pendy, Senior Vice President, Care Plus NJ.

Officer Juan Guzman is an 18-year veteran currently assigned to the patrol unit on the George Washington Bridge (GWB). Before being stationed at the GWB, Guzman was employed with the New York City Police Departments 26th Precinct located in West Harlem. In 2002 after the horrific events of September 11th, Guzman was hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department. He graduated for the Bergen County CIT Program on September 16, 2016.

On September 23, just one week after Guzman attended CIT Center of Excellence Program with his partner Officer Laverne Watson and Lieutenant Mike Hennessy in Bergen County, his Lieutenant Mike Hennessy and had to use their newly obtained CIT skills. Guzman and Hennessy were dispatched to a report of a man threatening to jump from the walkway along the eastbound lanes of the GWB’s upper level.

On arrival, Guzman and Hennessy discovered that a man had climbed over the railing on the bridge’s walkway, just west of the tower on the New York side. The man was standing on a ledge overlooking the Hudson River at which time Guzman engaged the suicidal subject in conversation and established an immediate rapport.

Due to Guzman’s rapport, compassion and willingness to listen, he and Hennessy were able to reassure the man that they were there to help. The man then climbed back over the rail and back onto the walkway where Guzman continued to talk to the man. The man was then transported to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center to be evaluated.

(Left to right) Officer Laverne Watson, Port Authority Police Department; Ed Dobleman, NJ State CIT Director; Amie Del Sordo, Bergen County CIT Mental Health Coordinator and Director of 262-HELP, Bergen County Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program; Officer Juan Guzman, Port Authority Police Department.

Things did not end there for Officer Guzman. The next day, September 24, he was once again called upon to use his CIT de-escalation skills. While on patrol with his partner, Lavern Watson, they found a 28-year old New York City man acting suspiciously on the south walkway. Guzman engaged the man in conversation who then stated that he came to the bridge to jump. Guzman was able to build rapport with the man and was able to get the man to agree to go for medical treatment. The man was transported by ambulance to Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus for an evaluation.

Guzman’s calm and compassionate demeanor along with his active listening skills allowed him the ability to ensure the safety of all subjects involved.

Since being assigned to the bridge in 2008, Guzman has successfully been able to prevent 24 individuals from attempting suicide. Because of his ability and compassion for all individuals that also showed during his time attending the Bergen County CIT Program (where everyone knew who Juan was), Officer Guzman has been awarded the CIT-NJ Center of excellence Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.