The faces of 42 people who suffered a range of ordeals are painted in the mind of 43-year-old Rob Sherburne from his 12 years serving as a police officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department. Some of the faces are those of children, some are adults; many of them he dreams of often, he said.
“That’s 42 weird instances still in my mind,” Sherburne said. “There were two suicides that really stuck with me. I just started speaking to my wife about it in the last three years. She knew nothing.”
In April, he and officer Israel Molina, 38, received a call from dispatch about a 13-year-old girl attempting suicide. When the officers approached the apartment building, they saw a body dangling from the third floor, Molina said.
“We immediately bolted toward the apartment,” he said. “We ran up the stairs at what felt like 110 mph. We were going to ram the door, but luckily it was unlocked. I was in full daddy mode at this point because I have a daughter.”
Once they entered, they ran to the balcony, where the mom was leaning over, holding onto her child. Sherburne ran to the mom’s right side as Molina covered the left, Sherburne said. Together they pulled the teen over the balcony.
“I could see the pain in the mom’s eyes,” Molina said. “As soon as we picked the daughter up, we immediately started comforting her trying to get mom to calm down.”
Last month, the pair received the Life Saving Award from the department for their efforts during an annual awards ceremony the department has to recognize staff. They received a small badge that they wear on their dress uniforms, right above their name tags. Other officers were awarded as well. Categories included the exemplary award, meritorious award, medal of valor and medal of honor. Awards are submitted by supervisors or other officers who saw an act of heroism.
“A simple thank you means a lot,” Sherburne said, adding that such calls can be taxing on one’s mental health.
“It’s important to talk to people outside of law enforcement,” Sherburne said. “It helps you keep a perspective of, not everybody needs help. It gets sad, though. You need people around you, hobbies so you don’t go crazy.”
Molina said he employs similar tactics.
“I just have to keep my mind busy — with friends, family,” he said. “We’re blessed to be in this profession. We’re serving people with real emotions, and that’s just humbling.”