by Ski Ingram

I had been on the Long Beach Police Department for just over one year.  I was working with Russ Peterson. Russ and I had both graduated from the Long Beach Police Department’s Police Academy, class # 32.  Once we were off probation and could choose our partners we began to work together.  We were working in beat #1, downtown Long Beach.

One night a call went out of a person on the roof of the Biltmore apartment building who was going to jump off the building and commit suicide.  Another unit was dispatched to the call, but Russ and I decided to roll on it also.  When we arrived, there were 4 or 5 units there already. We could she a male, who was later identified as Larry Dierking, sitting on the roof of the building with his legs dangling over the edge.

The only person I remember being there was Sergeant Max Baxter.  Everyone there was at the bottom of the building looking up at Dierking.  It didn’t look as if anyone was really trying to stop Dierking from jumping.  After watching for a while, Russ and I decided to get on the roof and try to talk Dierking off the roof.

We took the elevator to the top of the building.  When the doors opened, we saw the roof completely covered with homeless people.  There were so many people that we had trouble making our way to where Dierking was sitting at the edge of the roof.  We finally got close to where Dierking was sitting and could see that he was sitting on a short wall, about two feet high.  He was talking to the police officers on the ground and had no idea that we were on the roof standing about 4 feet from him.

An interesting thing, everyone on the roof were paying no attention to us or to Dierking. Russ and I decided not to try to talk Dierking off the roof, we decided to pull him off the edge.  Rus is smaller than me so we decided that Russ would grab Dierking as I pulled them both back away from the edge.  We took off our gun belts to make it easier to move through the crown of homeless people lying everywhere.

While Dierking was distracted talking to the police officers on the ground, Russ, and I cripped up behind him.  Russ grabbed Dierking around the waste while I had a hold on Russ’s waste. Together we pulled Dierking back off the ledge and onto the roof.  We handcuffed him and led him off the roof and to the ground.

We took Dierking to the Psych ward at Harbor General hospital in Carson.  He was detained on a 5150 Health and safety code violation so that doctors could determine if he was a danger to himself or others.  He was definitely a danger to himself as he was going to kill himself. I have no idea what happened to him after we dropped him off. I never saw or heard from him again.

Sometime later Russ and I were informed that Sergeant Baxter had put Russ and I in for a hero’s medal for risking our life to safe Larry Dierking from killing himself.  A few months before John was born Russ and I attended the department’s awards banquet and were awarded with a Class “C” medal for heroism.  The guest speaker at the ceremony was TV news weatherman George Fishback.

The award reads: “In the early morning hours of July 12, 1983, officers were dispatched to a hotel in the downtown area. When the officers arrived, they found a male subject perched on the roof of a four-story building.  He was sitting on the edge with one leg over the side and was threatening to leap. The subject was engaged in conversation by an officer who had taken a position who had taken a position on the roof. It became apparent that the subject was going to jump as he had put his other leg over the edge and continually stated that he was going to jump.

Officer Russ Peterson and Sidney Ingram gained access to the roof unseen by the would-be jumper. Both officers took off their gun belts and edged their way closer to the subject who was moving his body closer to the edge of the building. Officer Peterson lunged forward and grabbed the would-be jumper at the same time Officer Ingram took hold of Officer Peterson and both officers together were able to pull the subject to safety.

It is a distinct pleasure to publicly acknowledge Officers Russell Peterson and Sidney Ingram for their courage and to present them with this Meritorious “C” Award.”

The award was presented on February 21, 1984, and signed by the Police Chief Charles B. Ussery.