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Far Northwest Side Police Officer Dies By Suicide, At Least The 5th Since Summer, Officials Say

The officer's death comes amid an intensifying mental health crisis in the Police Department. At least 23 Chicago police officers have died by suicide since 2018.

A Chicago Police patch adorns a police uniform.
Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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NORWOOD PARK — An off-duty police officer died by suicide Thursday, at least the seventh officer to die by suicide this year.

Authorities found the officer, a 58-year-old woman, Thursday morning in Norwood Park, the Sun-Times reported. She’d apparently shot herself and was pronounced dead on the scene.

No other details were immediately available.

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The officer’s death comes as police throughout the city say they are grappling with a department-wide mental health crisis.

Supt. David Brown faced intense criticism this year for canceling scheduled days off and offering what some officers have said is inadequate mental health services. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been criticized for defending Brown’s decision and dismissing concerns from officers, saying in June that officers had an “incredible” amount of downtime.

An Office of the Inspector General report released in September revealed an estimated more than 1,000 officers had to work 11 or more consecutive days between April and May 31.

Officers told Block Club in July they’ve worked weeks without days off, forcing them to miss key family time, scramble to arrange child care or skip therapy. Many said they are drained and demoralized.

After the city watchdog’s report, Brown announced a policy to give officers more time off. The new rules meant most officers will have no more than one regular day off canceled per work week. During certain periods — including Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve — the department can cancel two regular days off.

Those officers also will get two consecutive days off for each police period and a minimum of nine hours rest between shifts, Brown said in a statement.

“The physical and emotional wellbeing of our officers remains the top priority of our Department,” Brown said in a statement. “The brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department step up every day, at great personal risk to themselves, to protect the people of Chicago. While our officers work to safeguard this city, we must also put safeguards in place to protect our officers. The health and wellbeing of our officers is a top priority and we have taken steps to ensure they have time to rest and re-energize.”

At least 23 Chicago police officers have died by suicide since 2018: six in 2018, four in 2019, two in 2020, four in 2021 and at least seven in 2022, according to the department.

Timothy Nelson died in September, a few days after retiring from the department, the Sun-Times reported. Earl Jones also died by suicide in September, according to the Sun-Times. Officers Andy Dobda, Durand Lee and Patricia Swank died by suicide in July. Sgt. Edward Dougherty died by suicide in March.

A 2017 Justice Department report found the department’s officer suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average. 

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