BAYTOWN, Texas — The Baytown police officer who disappeared last week was found dead. His body was discovered in an agricultural field near his home. The cause of death is from an apparent suicide early Tuesday, authorities said.
John Stewart Beasley, a 23-year veteran of the force, went missing around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, when he walked away from his home in Cove, just east of Baytown.
The 46-year-old’s family reported him missing that evening, and Chambers County Sheriff’s deputies, Baytown police and two canine teams launched a search, reported the Houston Chronicle.
The sheriff’s office initially said they’d seen “no indications of foul play,” but were investigating “all possible leads and scenarios.”
Then on Tuesday morning, authorities made a grim discovery when searchers in a helicopter spotted a body along FM 565 less than a mile from Beasley’s home, CW39 reported. He appeared to have died from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound, BPD Lt. Steve Doris said.
“Obviously, this was not the outcome that we were hoping for,” Doris said. “This is all too common in our business. We have officers that work 20 plus years on a daily basis seeing the worse of society and sometimes that takes a toll on people.”
He leaves behind one adult son.
Nationally, the number of police suicides appears to be on the rise, outpacing line-of-duty deaths last year. The nonprofit group Badge of Life reported 140 officers died at their own hands in 2017, up from 108 in 2016.
But it’s hard to get a more precise figures because there’s no federal database on police suicides, and many departments across the country don’t officially track those deaths, according to a Chronicle review earlier this year.
Aside from lax tracking, many departments don’t have targeted mental health support for suicidal officers, according to Ruderman Family Foundation study. Just 3 to 5 percent of police departments have suicide prevention training programs, the foundation’s analysis found.
Police Stress… Law enforcement has one of the highest rates of suicide in the United States. This is an ongoing problem with no end in sight. As long as there are traumatic events, there will be police suicide https://t.co/8RX52MhL1F
— Safe Call Now® (@safecallnoworg) August 7, 2018
Finally, BPD wants all officers to know that help is there if it is needed.
Harris County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne affirmed these details.
“There’s no question about it! If a police officer is struggling with stress-related issues or personal issues he should reach out to his employee assistance program and the faith-based chaplains that most all of us have,” Hawthorne said.