The City of Chicago has become notorious for its appallingly high murder rate, but what many may not know is that the harsh reality of living in Chicago has also taken a toll among the City’s thin blue line, as seen in the growing number of police suicides.
The year 2016 was one of the Windy City’s deadliest on record, with over 800 murders and well over 3,500 shootings. The year 2017 is shaping up to be no better, with a death count already hitting 233 and 1,267 shootings.
But the number of officers taking their own lives is also rising, Circa.com reported.
According to a recent report by the Department of Justice, Chicago police officers are committing suicide at an alarmingly high rate.
In its report, the DOJ noted that the rate of suicide among Chicago officers is 60 percent higher than the national average.
The Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago told the DOJ that there were 29.4 suicides per 100,000 officers from 2013 to 2015. Official department numbers place that rate at 22.7 suicides per 100,000.
Still, according to a Radford University study, the national average for police officers is 18.1, Circa.com said.
Some have said that the CPD’s internal programs to help officers through symptoms of PTSD are not sufficient.
“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Ron Rufo, a peer support counselor, said in January. “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.”
Chicago officer Brian Warner, who was diagnosed with PTSD after fatally shooting a man in 2011, agrees that the city’s support system in insufficient. Warner told Circa that he was met with indifference when he was diagnosed with PTSD.
“A mandatory one-time session and two days off to debrief. And then they say, ‘OK, you can go back to work.’ I don’t think that’s adequate,” Warner said.
The officer said that instead of getting proper help he “self-medicated” and developed a drinking problem.
Warner also said that even after he presented a doctor’s plan to deal with his symptoms and get him back to work, the CPD just put him on disability and washed their hands of him.
The CPD’s internal support system is also lacking compared to that of other large cities. For instance, Chicago has only three clinicians serving its 12,500 employees, while the Los Angeles Police Department has 12 for its 10,000 officers.
CPD officials told Circa that it is “currently working to strengthen and de-stigmatize these services in order to improve the overall mental health of our officers.”
But the abuse of Chicago’s police may come from the top, as Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly denigrated his own police force since the city’s murder rate continued spinning out of control.
In 2015, for instance, the mayor complained that the Chicago police are “going fetal” in response to the city’s growing crime rate.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.