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Clay County School Resource Deputy helps talk down teen who climbed water tower during a mental health crisis

Worlds of Fun Water Tower
Posted at 10:16 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 23:30:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Clay County School Resource Deputy helped talk down a student who climbed the Worlds of Fun water tower Wednesday night.

The student, who was in a mental health crisis, specifically asked for Jonathan Bransfield.

The incident highlights how powerful the connection can be between students and law officers.

Bransfield says being a good person, being personable and approachable, is the key to building relationships with students.

"Being somebody that those kids are going to be able to see past the uniform that they see," Bransfield said. "Let them see you."

He said the most powerful tool he carries is a conversation.

"Kids could literally come in and be like, 'Hey Deputy B, I'm having a rough time,' he said. Come on, let's sit down and talk about it. And I’ll stand by you if you need something. That’s why I’m here.”

That connection with students was put to the test late Wednesday night when Bransfield got a call from Kansas City, Missouri, police.

Someone spotted the teen climbing the Worlds of Fun water tower and called police.

Kansas City police found the teen still climbing the tower.

He nearly made it to the top of the tower, which is about 115 feet in the air.

The person the teen said he wanted to speak to most was Deputy Bransfield.

He wanted to say goodbye and thank the deputy for all his help.

Bransfield arrived a few minutes later and started a 40-minute conversation with the teen.

He said his personal connection with the teen, built by helping coach football, was what finally broke through.

"So I asked him and I said, 'Hey, what did I tell you during football, do you remember?'

Bransfield told the boy to repeat the advice he gave him during football practice.

"Keep your pad level down and keep moving your feet. And I said, 'Exactly.' And I said, 'So it's just like in life man, you just got knocked down. So now you got to get back up, you got to set that pad level low and you got to keep moving your feet until you get to that end zone."

The personal connection he'd been building turned out to be a lifeline.

"He just kept taking a step down and taking a step down and every time he would take a step down, he would say, 'One step at a time.' And I would follow that with, 'One day at a time," Bransfield said. “Once he’d jumped down and his feet hit the ground and he just came over to me and I just wrapped him up and he just sobbed. And I just told him how proud of him I was.”

Deputy Bransfield says the student is getting treatment and he will be there to help the student with his recovery.