Kevin Briggs is an unabashed fan of the "No I in 'Team'" concept. The California Highway Patrol sergeant from Novato has talked hundreds of potential Golden Gate Bridge jumpers not to attempt suicide, but he is the first to say he is not acting alone.
"There are many other people who contribute in that way," Briggs said Monday. "The Golden Gate Bridge staff has been vital to our success."
Why is he deflecting credit? Because there's a new video out (attached), produced by Yahoo Studios, that depicts Briggs as a savior to the troubled souls who venture out onto the 1.98-mile span to end their lives. Briggs has talked hundreds out of the jump and only lost one over the rail.
Briggs said he's starting to get a lot of attention because of the video, which was released last week after several months in the works. He said he was interviewed by a film crew at the bridge and at the CHP Marin headquarters in Corte Madera because someone had been turned onto a 2003 story about him in the New Yorker.
"What I'd like to get across now is the amount of people I work with and what they go through with these efforts," Briggs said. "We really do try to help the people out there. Each situation is independent of the other. I just try to get to the heart of the matter in each case, and I would expect my officers to do the same."
Briggs said among the unsung heroes are Michael Locati, the retired captain of the Golden Gate Bridge staff, and his wife, Lisa Locati, the current captain and another star of the 6-minute Yahoo video. The Locatis live in Hamilton.
Briggs has deep Novato roots. He was born in the city but moved to Novato at age 1 with his family. He attended San Ramon Elementary, Our Lady of Loretto Catholic School, St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma and finished up at San Marin High in 1981. His kids attend school here, although he just moved to Petaluma.
"Novato is still a small town in my mind," he said. "It's neat even though it has grown."
The pressures of a holiday season can make December a particularly trying month, leading to lots of calls to the bridge, Briggs said. June can be rough because younger people are at a personal crossroads with high school or college.
"I try to get their name and see if there are family members, see if they have kids," Briggs said in the video. "I try to get them to raise their head up, a lot of times they are looking straight down at the water. "
Briggs, who just turned 50, is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed when he was 21 years old while serving the Army. That experience gives him some credibility in dicey negotiations on the bridge.
"I can say hey, I've been through some of this also," he said.
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