Police advocate pleas for compassion for overwhelmed cops

Police advocate pleas for compassion for overwhelmed cops

Police advocate pleas for compassion for overwhelmed cops

After the Chicago Police Department lost three police officers to suicide in the past month, a law enforcement advocate says the topic that remains taboo deserves to be discussed more often for people to get the help they need.

Three Chicago police officers — Andy Dobda, Durand Lee and Patricia Swank — have died by suicide in the past month. They are the latest in a skyrocketing trend among law enforcement that has been vilified, overworked, and undermanned since 2020, when the “Defund the Police” movement emerged from race protests.

The number of officer suicides jumped 25 percent in 2020 and that rate keeps going up since then. 

Randy Sutton of The Wounded Blue, a nonprofit that assists officers with PTSD, calls it a topic that no one wants to talk about.

Sutton, Lt. Randy Sutton

“As near as we can figure,” he tells AFN, “four to seven times the amount of officers who die in the line of duty will take their own lives.”

In response to the string of suicides, the Chicago Police Department released a statement that stated it is "in the midst of the most difficult and challenging time to be a Police Officer in the country. Officer well-being and overall mental health is our top priority.”

Beyond the political attacks they endure, Sutton says officers see tragedy, human misery, death and despair that the human mind is not equipped to bear. So it’s not surprising, he says, that many officers are pushed over the top. It doesn’t help, he adds, that many officers know they will be asked to turn in their badge and gun if they tell their boss they are struggling with the job.

The statement from CPD, however, reminded fellow officers that the department has a Professional Counseling Division for officers, both active and retired, that is free and confidential.