June 8, 2019
According to Blue Help, 89 police officers have committed suicide in 2019. That equates to one officer committing suicide every other day. At the current pace, WE will lose another 115 officers before the year ends.
203 TOTAL – 27% increase from the 159 reported by Blue Help in 2018.
Question: How many other lives have been impacted and/or will be impacted by that staggering number?
What can WE do? In an article dated January 7, 2019, PoliceOne.com reported that less than 10% of U.S. Police Departments have a suicide prevention program in place. As a recently retired Assistant Police Chief of a mid-size agency (430 sworn), I am embarrassed that the PROFESSION has not done more to address the number one killer of police officers! What programs have you implemented to address the violent crime rate in your jurisdiction? I would venture to say, if you have not taken some kind of action, you will not be in the position for long. Why doesn’t the same sense of urgency apply to saving our own?
My challenge to Police Chiefs around the country: Implement some type of suicide prevention / wellness program in your department as soon as possible. We mandate that officers receive mandatory yearly training on numerous topics (use of force, vehicle pursuits, de-escalation, etc.), why not mandate that your officers receive training on suicide prevention. This can be done at little or no cost.
**As police chiefs, I hope you are always looking for ways to lessen your city’s, department’s and/or your liability concerning police operations. Is it feasible, that at some point a suriving spouse will file a lawsuit claiming that your department did not provide some type of training on suicide prevention? I would argue that in addtion to the potential civil liability, that WE have a moral obligation to address the problem.
If you decide to accept the challenge, please let me know and I will gladly post you and your agency as a department that wants to change the current trend.
Christopher Davis (Asst. Police Chief – Retired)