Man in Crisis Climbs SF Traffic Light. It Took 5 Hours to Help Him

A man in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood who appeared to be suffering from a mental crisis climbed to the top of a traffic light Friday morning, sparking a response from multiple city departments that lasted more than five hours.

Police at the scene on the corner of Ellis and Leavenworth Streets told The Standard the man was well known in the area and had previously climbed a light pole. The last incident lasted about three hours, officials said.

A San Francisco police officer watched a man in distress sit at a traffic light at the Tenderloin on Friday. | Photo by David Sjostedt/The Standard

The problems surrounding San Francisco’s mental health crisis have been well documented in recent years, as demand for services increasingly takes a toll on the city’s public safety resources.this city has Street Crisis Response Team Helping the mentally distressed is a task that often falls to the police.

The San Francisco Police Department currently has more than 1,500 officers, but city officials say adequate staffing will be closer to 2,100.

Mayor London Breed’s call for $27 million in overtime funding to keep officers on patrol was opposed and supported by members of the board of supervisors.

On Friday, a woman who worked across the road from the incident said the street crisis team nearly saved the man from the traffic light pole at one point. However, when the man fell to the ground, police arrived and he was terrified, she said.

video posted to twitter The man is shown kicking off the hood of the traffic light earlier in the morning.

While police and nearly two dozen people on the street watched the man yell, officers from the nearby coroner’s office were seen entering the Senator Hotel, a one-room building. This office is responsible for collecting the city’s dead bodies.

Shortly after 2 p.m., a guy on the corner yelled at the man in distress, offering him $20 if he could just get off the traffic light. He told the man at the traffic light that the kids were passing by on their way home from school.

A man was arrested Friday after a five-hour standoff after climbing at a traffic light in Tenderloin. Photo by David Sjostedt/The Standard

Nearby resident Isaac Perkins arrived quickly and coaxed the man down in less than five minutes. He said he just told the man he loved him and that someone cared about him.

Perkins said the presence of police is what has kept it going for so long.

“That was intimidation,” he said. “I won’t come down either.”

Police took the man into custody, and life in the Tenderloin continued.

josh cohen can reach [email protected]
David Sjost can reach [email protected]

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