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Lightfoot: Police suicides present an opportunity to address law enforcement hardships

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago has an opportunity to address mental health issues within the Chicago Police Department after a fourth officer has died by suicide since March.

Two officers and one Sergeant for the Chicago Police Department have taken their own lives since the beginning of July.

On March 12, Sgt. Edward Dougherty committed suicide. On July 2, Officer Patricia Swank died after an apparent suicide, and officer Durand Lee passed away on July 15.

On July 17, Sgt. Andrew Dobda also took his life.

At an unrelated news conference Monday, Lightfoot said Chicago has an opportunity to address issues related to its law enforcement officers’ mental well-being.

“I think the three suicides presents us with an opportunity to remember that our police officers endure incredible stress and trauma,” Lightfoot said. “The challenge and opportunity is to make sure we recognize the reality of our officer’s jobs.”

Lightfoot was asked if she thinks the city is doing enough for its officers. The mayor pointed to extra funds in the city’s 2023 budget.

“With the city council’s approval, we put an additional $20 million into the budget this year,” Lightfoot said. “It is to expand the mental health offerings to the officers and their families.”

Lightfoot urged the public to think of the families during this difficult time.

“We are obviously all grieving for the loss of these three lives,” Lightfoot said. “We need to say a prayer and keep the families front and center because they will be living with this grief for quite some time.”

Since Lightfoot took office in 2018, more than a dozen Chicago Police officers have committed suicide. The U.S. Department of Justice in 2017 reported “CPD’s officer suicide rate is more than 60% higher than the national average of 18.1 law enforcement suicides per 100,000.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by dialing 988.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.


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