Some topics are difficult to write and read about, and the suicide rate of our police officers is one of them. Understandably, it’s something we as a nation don’t like to think about. Consequently, the media doesn’t concentrate on covering it often. And there’s never a good time to bring it up. So it was that, a few days before Christmas, a local, Phoenix police organization put out this urgent request for prayer on social media:
The Glendale Arizona Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 12 wrote:
If you have a moment, please join us in praying for the police officers in Chicago who are dealing with unimaginable tragedy. They are in need of love right now 🙏🏽
3rd apparent suicide by a Chicago police officer in a week highlights continuing problem https://t.co/QoGKXVHCbe
— Glendale Arizona FOP Lodge 12 (@GlendaleFOP12) December 23, 2022
As I said, it was only because the Glendale FOP alerted me to it that I know at all–and that shouldn’t be.
In their piece, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about this “wake-up call” — which I think is for all Americans:
The apparent suicide of a third Chicago cop within a week needs to be a wake-up call for a department that has been long criticized over how it takes care of its officers, a psychologist who treats members of law enforcement told the Sun-Times Thursday.
Earlier in the day, an officer was found dead at his home in the Chicago Lawn District on the Southwest Side, according to police department spokesman Tom Ahern.
It was believed that he took his own life, but no details have been released.
Details still have not been released, a week later, except for his age, 51, and that he was a resident of the 8th District, Fox3now reported. Fifty-one is way too young to die.
The Sun-Times continues with the Windy City’s death toll for what’s supposed to be a joyous time of year:
On Tuesday, an off-duty officer was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. She had been on the force five years and had been working as a tactical officer in the Central District downtown, Ahern said.
On Dec. 15, a 58-year-old officer was found dead in the 5800 block of North Northwest Highway, also of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Since 2018, at least 12 Chicago area police officers have taken their own lives. Eight of those deaths happened in 2022 alone. The publication spoke with a psychologist who worked for the department for 13 years.
“If we don’t start talking about this, then people are going to do what just happened in this last week,” said Dr. Carrie Steiner, a psychologist whose practice focuses solely on law enforcement officers and their spouses.
Unsurprisingly, when she left the department, she understood how urgent the need was to help these heroes.
But there’s a looming political problem, too, which RedState has written on extensively before — in progressive blue cities like Chicago, there simply isn’t respect for the job police do (find that here, here, and here). One example I shared in a piece back in August 2021 was Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot using the death of one officer in the line of duty to push an anti-gun agenda.
Whatever the circumstance, the left’s message is loud and clear, in the upper management’s and Chicago politicians’ actions, in the Sun-Times’ piece: (emphasis mine)
Family members of officers who have taken their own lives have said the stress of the job is magnified by the department’s practice of routinely canceling days off.
In late August, city Inspector General Deborah Witzburg released a report that found nearly 1,200 officers had to work at least 11 straight days earlier this year.
An officer who spoke to a reporter Thursday on the condition their name not be used echoed Steiner in saying members of the force don’t believe Lightfoot or Brown understand the gravity of not giving officers more time off.
“They just don’t get it,” the officer said. “I don’t think they’re out to get us, I just think they don’t have any understanding of what it’s like.
The reminder Glendale FOP has on its Twitter account is crucial for everyone – regardless of political affiliation – to hear: “Police are not the problem. In fact, they are the last, best hope for many of our communities.” Exactly right, and we all need act like it more often.