Fontana Police Officer Michael Hall and his team at the Fontana Community Outreach And Support Team (COAST) are committed to building relationships with citizens facing emotional crises, although finding the right words can sometimes prove to be a challenge. This was particularly evident on March 27th, 2024, when they encountered a young man who felt utterly devoid of reasons to live after experiencing significant personal losses. The young man had recently endured a breakup, his family had relocated, and he was reluctant to share his burdens with friends. Despite having started a new job in animal care, his sense of achievement was dwarfed by the immense weight of his depression.

The situation escalated when the young man texted a friend about his intention to end his life, planning to start by consuming a large amount of alcohol. Despite his past efforts in rehab and a period of sobriety, he seemed to have given up hope. After purchasing several cans of malt liquor, he was found by Officer Hall and his colleagues in a parking lot, visibly distressed and intoxicated.

Upon approaching the young man’s truck, Officer Hall noticed the man’s emotional state, compounded by the obvious signs of alcohol consumption. Officer Hall introduced himself and attempted to understand the man’s distress. However, the young man was so overwhelmed that he could not speak and began to sob uncontrollably.

At this point, Officer Hall, along with San Bernardino County Fire Engineer BJ Meyes and his K9 Scout, were standing close by. Recognizing the young man’s inability to engage in conversation, Officer Hall inquired if he liked dogs. This question prompted BJ to bring Scout closer. The sight of Scout immediately brought a smile to the young man’s face, leading to laughter. He disclosed that he was a veterinary technician with a profound love for animals. Encouraged by Officer Hall, the young man exited his truck to interact with Scout on the ground.

Scout, with her innate sense of empathy, approached the man, offering comfort and signaling her support. This interaction led to a noticeable shift in the young man’s demeanor; he began to share his experiences, focusing on Scout throughout their conversation.

Officer Hall reflected on the situation, acknowledging that without the intervention of BJ and Scout, the young man might not have opened up or been receptive to the support he desperately needed. Through COAST’s efforts, the young man was persuaded to enter rehab, with a friend vowing to stay by his side until he was safe.