FLEETWOOD, Pa. | Sometimes we need someone to listen, to let us know we're not alone, even if that someone is just online. Chief Steven Stinsky remembers logging on to the Fleetwood Police Facebook page, late one night in August.
"Getting ready to go to bed that night on the 13th around 11 o' clock, I saw that just after three someone had sent a message to the police department via Facebook messenger," Stinsky recalled.
The message the chief read was unsettling. A teenage boy wanted to end his life, and Chief Stinsky replied. The boy said he was at home and gave Stinsky his name.
The chief called the officer on duty and asked him to check the usual databases to find out more about him.
To the department's surprise, nothing came up. No records could be found on the boy who was messaging Chief Stinsky.
More messages came in overnight and by the next day, the Chief and the boy were messaging back and forth. He talked about living in his 'flat', his job as a tram driver, and the Chief began to realize that the boy wasn't messaging him from here in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.
This boy had been messaging Stinsky from across the ocean, about 3,381 miles away. He was from the Fleetwood in Lancashire, England.
"It doesn't really matter whether I'm texting you from my command post outside your house or I'm texting you across the Atlantic Ocean," the chief commented.
For hours, Chief Stinsky talked to this boy over messenger, while he reached out to officers in Lancashire.
"Very rarely do we get someone who's in crisis now, and we are relying on someone who's in another country doing crisis interventions on our behalf." said Gary Crowe, Chief Inspector with Lancashire Constabulary United Kingdom.
The young teen had been sending pictures to the chief. He sent one by a tram station, and the chief told him help was on the way. The officers in the England recognized the location thanks to Stinsky, and found the boy sitting on a bench.
The first thing Chief Stinsky felt knowing the boy was ok: relief.
"Relieved. Relieved because you're involved in something for so long, you know, and obviously it's very serious about what could potentially happen so when it's all over it's like. OK."
"Someone who was in crisis, someone who was vulnerable and had nowhere else to turn," commented Crowe, "Even though they are in the UK, they were able to reach out to a US police officer and they still did the right thing."