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Golden Gate Bridge beefing up patrols along span to prevent suicides

Golden Gate Bridge beefing up patrols along span to prevent suicides
A man sits on a rock overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 11, 2015. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Five new officers will be hired to patrol the Golden Gate Bridge, specifically to search for people looking to jump to their death.

The bridge board last week approved adding the patrol officers, bringing the total to 22. They are expected to be working on the span in about two months, the Marin Independent Journal reported Sunday.

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Between 2000 and 2005, bridge officers were able to stop an average of 52 people a year from jumping from the span. So far in 2016, there have been 138 successful interventions and the number is projected to exceed 200 by the end of the year.

The increase in successful interventions is directly related to having more officers patrolling the bridge's sidewalks, said Capt. Lisa Locati, the span's top law enforcement official.

Having the additional officers will allow Locati to deploy three or four officers on the span at one time, up from the current two, she said.

"The officers want to be on the sidewalk detail," she said. "They are the front line in these situations."

The move by the bridge board is the latest to address suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge.

In August, bridge officials announced a partnership with Crisis Text Line, which allows people in crisis to text GGB to 741741 and almost immediately have access to a counselor. Bridge security is also notified. Signs referring people to the service are now on the span.

In June 2014, the bridge board unanimously agreed to build a suicide barrier expected to be completed by 2020.

More than 1,400 people have jumped to their deaths since the bridge opened in 1937.

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