I wrote this last week and it was published in Crain’s Chicago Business, my thanks to them for letting me reach out to Chicago’s business community.
When Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced interim Chicago police Superintendent Charlie Beck at a news conference last month she had this to say “He knows how to get things done. After 8 1/2 years as head of the Los Angeles Police Department, he certainly has convinced many people that the mayor has nailed it.
When a police chief says in response to that kind of high praise “I don’t just love cops, I am cops” all of Chicago’s finest know what that means. Chicago’s cops need help in more ways than policing in a violent City. His help and his experience are a godsend.
In January 2017 the U.S Justice Department concluded that the Chicago Police Department did not have an overarching officer-wellness program that includes robust counseling programs, comprehensive training, functional equipment, and other tools to ensure officers are successful and healthy. In 2018 across the U.S cop suicides (159) for the 3rd straight year outnumbered line-of-duty deaths.
Back in March, Daniel Hollar who chairs the department of behavioral and social sciences at Bethune -Cookman University in Florida, said this about Chicago’s suicide rate among its cops.”Chicago is kind of like ground zero with the number of suicides that are happening on a monthly basis at this point.
At the time of the Justice Departments’ findings, Chicago had just 3 clinicians in its employee’s assistant program for more than 13,000 officers, it since has added two more. By contrast, the Los Angeles Police Department, a much smaller department (just under 10,000 officers) and one that sees far less violence employs 16 Clinicians in its Behavioral Science Services who are assigned to each of the department’s divisions to promote earlier intervention and reduce the stigma that surrounds asking for help.
It’s impossible to serve and protect others when the protectors are not well themselves. Chicago’s number of police suicides is alarming and in need of immediate intervention. Charlie Beck a man who loves cops comes from Los Angeles, and he knows their mental health programs well. Chicago’s finest are in desperate need of that love.
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