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Plumstead officer Thomas J. Rutecki receives award for saving teen


A Plumstead Township Police Officer who brought a teenage girl contemplating suicide from a bridge to safety Jan. 2, received the Police Star March 13, for displaying heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty.

Those actions were documented on both in-car and body-worn cameras.

According to the Plumstead Township Police Department, Officer Thomas J. Rutecki was asked to assist members of the Doylestown Township Police Department in looking for a 15-year-old girl who was reported to be suicidal and was reported to be sitting on top of an unknown Route 611 Bypass overpass bridge at 12:15 a.m. Jan. 2.

Officer Rutecki immediately responded to the Route 313 overpass at the Route 611 Bypass, where he found the teen straddling the overpass bridge guardrail above the bypass below.

He got out of his patrol car and approached the girl. He remained calm and attempted to build a bond with her by talking about school and her school activities.

Rutecki, a 19-year veteran of the department, is credited with using “exceptional active listening skills” while under a great deal of stress.

While speaking with the teen, Officer Rutecki had the foresight to request all traffic be stopped along the Route 611 Bypass. During the incident, police said, the girl swung both legs over the guardrail, and was then facing the 611 Bypass.

Officer Rutecki continued to use his communication skills, showing empathy and remaining calm during the five and a half minutes while he was speaking to the teen. “He was able to eventually seize an opportunity to physically secure (her) and pull her from the bridge, safely ending this incident,” police said.

In presenting the Police Star award, Plumstead Township Police Chief David Mettin called Officer Rutecki’s actions during the incident “commendable.”

“Officer Rutecki used his training, skills and abilities, along with his years of police experience and demonstrated heroic police work. It is an honor and privilege to have Officer Rutecki work for the Plumstead Township Police Department.

“The Police Star is issued to an officer who has displayed heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty under conditions less than extreme, but with substantial risk to the officer’s safety.

“In many cases, police Command Staff are not on-scene to witness these heroic actions. But in this case, Officer Rutecki activated his in-car and body worn cameras to document the event. I have watched this event several times from Officer Rutecki’s recorded video and can attest to the fact that, due to his actions, a tragedy was averted, and a young life was saved.”

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