CHICAGO – A Chicago police officer was found unresponsive in his vehicle Monday in downtown Chicago and pronounced dead at the hospital, officials said.
The officer was found in the 0-100 block of North Des Plaines Street about 3:46 p.m., police said. The officer was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial hospital.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that the officer’s death was a suicide.
“Devastating news as an on duty #ChicagoPolice officer has taken his own life this evening,” the tweet read. “The supervisor in our mass transit section was discovered unresponsive by fellow officers. Our hearts are heavy and deepest condolences are with his family and fellow officers tonight.”
Devastating news as an on duty #ChicagoPolice officer has taken his own life this evening. The supervisor in our mass transit section was discovered unresponsive by fellow officers. Our hearts are heavy and deepest condolences are with his family and fellow officers tonight. pic.twitter.com/of1Mz8UmdE
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) September 3, 2018
Another Chicago police officer took his own life in his squad car last July outside of a district station.
The rate of suicide among officers in Chicago is 60 percent higher than other departments across the U.S. according to figures from 2017. This is a staggering number.
— Diplomatic Security Services Group LLC (@SeServicegroup) September 3, 2018
Among the ranks of the nearly 10,000 patrol officers of the Chicago Police Department, an average of three officers will take their own lives each year, according to life insurance claims information from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union representing the bulk of the department’s sworn officers.
Ron Rufo was a peer support counselor for CPD. He spent most of his 21 years as a patrolman in the 9th District, volunteering to talk to his fellow officers at any scene where an officer was killed or injured. He retired from the department a few years ago.
Rufo believes the number of his former peers who kill themselves each year could be double the FOP figure.
“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Rufo said. “Supervisors don’t talk about it. The rank-and-file don’t talk about it. And it’s like the administration does not want to admit it’s a problem.”
A culture of care doesn’t exist in CPD, former FOP President Dean Angelo said last year. Union leaders urged management to create a program to allow officers to decompress in a healthy manner following a traumatic experience, he said. However, the suggestion apparently morphed into the department’s policy of putting officers involved in shootings on desk duty for a mandatory 30 days. Angelo said the move seems punitive to officers.
“We wanted an ‘administrative timeout,’ where you could go to your supervisor and say, ‘Hey, I need some time,’ and there would be a guarantee you could stay in your assignment and wouldn’t be ostracized,” Angelo said. “Guys need that guarantee, or they’re not going to talk.”
Officers need support to deal with trauma, not just when they’ve been involved in a shooting.
“We don’t put a notch on our gun when we shoot someone. It’s traumatic for the officer, but not everyone needs 30 days to deal with it,” Angelo said. “What about the guy that went to a domestic and saw a baby covered in roaches? Or who just buried his own kid.
“It’s a crazy-ass job,” he said. “You’re dealing with the crazy. You can’t be crazy.”
If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home’”to 741741.