Archives February 2020

POLICE SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION

With cops’ suicide on the rise, we must recognize they suffer from depression too | Opinion

During my stint as a Miami-Dade cop from 1960 to 1990, I personally knew 10 officers who committed suicide.

The reasons varied from cop to cop, i.e., emotional issues at home, runaway debt, alcohol abuse, fears and pressures of the job, and more. But the one common thread, regardless of race, creed, culture, or wealth, is usually related to depression.

Yes. Cops have feelings too.

The last thing they want is for top brass to know they are suffering every day inside the mind and heart. They play a role as if nothing is wrong when, in fact, too many are a walking time bomb ready to explode. Such fears are kept secret.

An article in FLORIDA TODAY on Feb. 12 cited reliable sources about the alarming increase of suicides among police officers, with 734 taking their own lives between 2016 to 2019, according to Blue H.E.L.P.

Police officers who suffer mental problems should be identified so that they can be treated by professionals. Right? Not so fast. That can also end their coveted careers. They well know that. Cops who let their emotional imbalances be known, fear being transferred to undesirable assignments, or if recommended by professionals, outright termination. Bye-bye career. Bye-bye pension.

Yes, top brass is concerned about helping the officers, but they also worry about their responsibility to the public and their own image if and when they fail to take action.

Some officers are unable to cope with the stress, thereby creating more problems. Officers know that any signs of mental imbalance could result in new unwanted assignments, or even dismissal, if such secrets were disclosed.

One homicide supervisor fought fear, fights and trepidation every day on duty. He also tried handling an array of children (three adopted), a demanding spouse, runaway debts, daily domestic conflicts, too much alcohol each evening, a mentally ill son/addict by a previous marriage, not to mention a work load which totaled over 100 investigations a year. Among his cases were the infamous McDuffie case that led to the Miami riots of 1980 and the Mariel Boatlift right after.

He thought more about the kids, the stigma they would face and the need for professional help, however secret. A counseling psychologist named Doris entered his life and triggered a year of productive therapy.

Close call.

In today’s America, particularly in large communities, police officers face deadly hatred as routine. Folks in urban areas have learned how to taunt cops in hopes of inciting bad outcomes making them all look bad. In recent years, on-duty cops have been assaulted with barrels of water over their heads as nearby cell phones formed videos. They turned another cheek and kept walking, humiliated. At some street disturbances, officers have stood at attention while subjected to hooligans embarking on foul-mouthed screaming episodes directly into their eardrums. They had orders to look away and take it.

In North Florida, two deputies quietly eating their meal at a local restaurant in Gilchrist County were shot to death in 2018 by a cop-hating maniac for no other reason than being a cop. Brooklyn, New York, 2014, same outcome as two cops were shot to death while quietly sitting in their police car. Many other senseless cop shootings have resulted in officers surviving, but it certainly makes that theater of operations a dangerous place to be.

In 2019, 134 officers died in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2018, that number was 167 and in 2017, it was 176.

It’s no wonder that police suicides are on the upswing. Like most other career servants, these officers also have wants, goals and needs, and families with problems. Only, they carry a badge.

By the way, that homicide supervisor who sat in the driveway, gun in hand, was me. 

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.

police officers suffer from depression too (Florida Today)