Cal Poly University Police Department Officer Receives CSU Life Saving Medal

Officer Chad Reiley talked a suicidal student off the ledge on the top of a multi-story parking structure in November 2016 incident near Poly Canyon Village residence halls

Cal Poly University Police Officer Chad Reiley pictured with K-9 Brisant.

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A 12-year-veteran of the Cal Poly University Police Department was honored Wednesday by the California State University system for saving the life of a suicidal student in 2016.

Officer Chad Reiley, who has worked in law enforcement for 22 years, is the first UPD officer to receive the inaugural CSU lifesaving medal — the fourth highest award issued by the 23-campus CSU.

“I’m glad I was able to get a student help when he needed it,” the officer said.

The CSU Board of Trustees created an award policy last August to recognize university police officers who engage in activities that “go above and beyond the course of normal duties and result in honor being brought to themselves, their campus and the CSU.”

According to the department, about 10 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2016, Reiley was on a routine patrol, doing proactive checks of the two parking structures in the Poly Canyon Village area of campus.

“The incident happened at the top level of the Village Drive parking structure,” said Brenda Trobaugh, Cal Poly’s deputy police chief. “Chad was on patrol when he observed the student on the ledge. It was a male student who was either a freshman or sophomore, just starting his college life.”

The student told Reiley he had texted goodbye to friends and said he “had nothing to live for,” said Lt. Bryan Cox in a commendation report. “After approximately 30 minutes of discussion, Officer Reiley was able to convince the male into sliding back and eventually off from the edge (of the five-story structure).

“The cell phone he had in his possession had text messages where he had said goodbye to several friends and indicated his plans to end his life that night,” Cox said.

The student was placed on a mental health hold and received treatment. He eventually returned to Cal Poly to continue his education.

“It was Officer Reiley’s proactive patrols and observation skills that allowed him to see the student on the ledge and his communication skills that allowed Reiley to stop him from committing suicide, and obtain the needed support services that allowed him to continue his degree path, ultimately saving his life,” Trobaugh said.

CSU Trustee Wenda Fong of Los Angeles recounted what Officer Reiley did to earn the awards followed by Chancellor Timothy P. White presenting the medal and a certificate to the officer.

“The CSU is remarkably fortunate to have compassionate and courageous men and women serving in peace-keeping roles across all our campuses,” White said. “The safety and security of our students, our faculty and our staff, is of paramount importance, and our police officers are the shield that provides that protection.

“Truly, the colleagues we honor are deserving of the commendations we are awarding them. In addition to their own acts of courage, they represent the strength and commitment of all their co-workers within the university’s police department.”

In the past dozen years at Cal Poly, Reiley has held a variety of duties within the department including stints as crime prevention officer, field training officer, range master and his current position as one of the department’s K-9 officers working with K-9 Brisant.

Contact: Brenda Trobaugh

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