Tennessee officers awarded for life-saving river rescue on day off

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In 32 years of police service, Memphis Police Harbor Patrolman Michael Duffee, who stands guard by the Mississippi River, has received three lifesaving medals for keeping people alive.

His latest commendation came from rescuing a suicidal man on the officer’s day off.

In September, he had been enjoying a soccer game when he got the call a man was about to jump off the pedestrian bridge above the Mud Island marina.

“Good thing that we were there and we were that close,” Duffee said. “Normally on a day off, it can be 45 minutes to get there. We just happened to be around the corner.”


He jumped in the nearest boat and positioned himself at the ready as the man was 150 feet above.

“I saw that somebody gave him a cigarette,” Duffee said. “I went ahead and took my uniform off. I had this exact uniform on. Took my shirt off.”

Seconds later the man jumped and Duffee went to scoop him out of the water.

“He said he was hurting,” Duffee said. “I said that’s a good thing, because that means you’re alive.”

He has faith the man is doing better, but he knows he was just doing his duty.

“It’s what we are here for,” he said.

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