A 53-year-old NYPD officer shot and killed himself in his Nassau County home on June 26, the fourth city cop to commit suicide this month.
The officer, identified as Kevin Preiss, a 24-year veteran cop, was assigned to the 50th Precinct in Riverdale.
Need to Address ‘Crisis’
Earlier this month, three NYPD cops, including two who had spent decades with the department, shot and killed themselves in a nine-day period.
On June 5, the Executive Officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, Deputy Chief Steven J. Silks, 62 years old and weeks from mandatory retirement, killed himself. A day later, Brooklyn South Detective First Grade Joseph Calabrese, a respected 57-year-old homicide investigator, also fatally shot himself. On June 14, Police Officer Michael Caddy, a 29-year-old domestic-violence officer, shot and killed himself near his 121st Precinct stationhouse on Staten Island.
Chief of Department Terence Monahan said this was the sixth suicide of an NYPD member this year.
The rash of suicides prompted Commissioner James P. O’Neill and other department officials to implore officers in crisis to seek help.
“This is something that we need to talk about,” and no longer in “hushed tones,” Chief Monahan said during a Fox5 interview June 27. “We need to speak about this. We need to be able to get our cops to feel comfortable. Get rid of that machismo...We as an agency, as a police agency, we need to treat our cops better when they do come forward.”
‘Take Care of Each Other’
Following Officer Caddy’s death, Commissioner O’Neill, via a message on the NYPD’s webpage, directed members of the service on where and how to seek help.
“We must take care of each other. We must address this issue—now—because it will not go away on its own,” the message read.
“This is a mental-health crisis,” Mr. O’Neill posted on his Twitter feed. “And the NYPD & the law-enforcement profession as a whole absolutely must take action.”
He encouraged officers to talk to friends or coworkers, or to contact counselors at the department’s Employees Assistance Unit. He also suggested reaching out to the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, a volunteer police-support organization. And he encouraged officers to make a confidential referral to EAU counselors if they were concerned about a fellow officer.
Despite the appeals from police brass, union officials and others said that the stigma of mental-health challenges remain a powerful inducement for officers facing a crisis to stay quiet for fear of derailing their careers.
Both Commissioner O’Neill and Chief Monahan, however, have gone to lengths to assure officers that seeking help could be among the most significant steps for an officer to take to advance his or her career.
The commanding officer of the Employee Assistance Unit, Lieut. Janna Salisbury, said officers who reach out to the department’s peer-support program—full-time members of the NYPD are available 24/7—can be assured that confidentiality is nearly absolute, the only exceptions being when suicidal ideation is detected, or when an officer admits to major misconduct.
“Any conversation between the member of the department and the peer counselor regarding any personal or professional kind of stressors that are going on in their life would be held confidential,” she said.
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