Newport police officer honored again
Newport Police Officer Jason Head was honored by the American Legion in 2009 after he resuscitated an unresponsive child at the Marriott Hotel. Now, three years later, Head is being exalted again, this time by the Newport Police Department, who at its annual awards ceremony on May 8 presented the Jamestown native with a Meritorious Service Award. He was honored because of his actions during an incident last year involving a suicidal male who allegedly had a gun.
On Dec. 19, Newport Police received a call from someone who said their friend was sending disturbing text messages indicating that he “had a gun in one hand” and wanted a “cop to shoot me today.”
Head was the first to arrive on scene, where he witnessed the suspect wearing a buttoned-up trench coat with a hood and dark sunglasses covering his face. After seeing Head, the suspect ran being some stairs in an attempt to hide. Head drew his weapon and pointed it towards the man, repeatedly ordering him to show his hands and lie on the ground.
The man refused. The suspect then emerged from the stairs and advanced towards Head in a charging motion. “I’m not taking orders from you,” the suspect said. “You’re going to have to shoot me.”
Because of the nature of the call – and the fact that the suspect was a convicted felon and had access to guns – Head had the option to use deadly force. “Even though we train for it, no officer ever wants to be in a situation where they may actually have to shoot someone,” said Head.
As the suspect came closer, Head was able to get a clearer view of both of his hands. He noticed that the man was not armed, so he decided that there was no need for casualties. Head subdued the man using his Taser. The suspect was then taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.
The Meritorious Service Award is giving for a highly creditable accomplishment made by an offi- cer as a result of excellent police work.
Head said that the Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust’s instructional program – Firearms Training System – was essential in preparing for such a situation. The annual training program uses virtual reality.
“Although the scenarios presented by F.A.T.S. training appear, at times, unlikely, after what I experienced with a person suffering an emotional episode charging at me while I had a .45 caliber handgun pointed at him, it makes me realize more and more that anything is possible.