The New York Police Department (NYPD) is dealing with a “mental health crisis,” according to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
“We’ve had nine suicides so far this year. Prior to that, we average four to five per year for the last five years,” O’Neill told CBS New York.
A report by the Department of Investigations said that 44 of 174 retired NYPD officers said they considered getting help, but only two-thirds of them actually did.
So far this year, a total of nine NYPD officers have died by suicide, and the department has reportedly been encouraging those left behind to seek help if they are in need of support.
On August 13, NYPD Chief of Department Terence A. Monahan told officers, “Get the help. If you’re feeling that dark moment, get the help.”
However, the sister of NYPD Officer Robert Echeverria, who was the ninth officer to die by suicide on August 14, said she warned the department about the guns her brother had prior to his death and was concerned that he might use them to kill himself.
“I said to them, ‘My brother is going to kill himself and the blood is on you.’ Almost two months to the day, my brother killed himself, and now I have to bury him,” she stated.
The department did intervene briefly with Echeverria, according to his sister, and took his guns away for a short time, but returned them a few days later after a doctor determined he was not a threat to himself or others.
In a letter written on August 15, Ed Mullins, who heads up the Sergeants Benevolent Association, accused O’Neill of permitting “lawlessness and complete lack of respect for police officers” on the city’s streets.
Mullins said officers are unsure “as to exactly what their duties are, and they overwhelmingly feel as if they are not supported by the NYPD and the mayoral administration.”
However, O’Neill said Wednesday that he believes respect needs to come from the community as a whole, not just city leaders.
“People need to respect the cops. They need to respect the men and women of the NYPD. They need to respect people in law enforcement,” he concluded.