Officers From City, Suburbs Gather For Police Suicide Awareness And Prevention Seminar

Bernie Tafoya
February 21, 2019 - 10:56 am

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- More than 300 police from the city and the suburbs are taking part in a seminar on Thursday to learn ways to head-off police suicides.

According to Frank Gross, Director of Operations for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, in Chicago last year, four police officers killed themselves. He goes on to point out that so far this year, two officers have committed suicide.

Chicago Police Deputy Chief Francis Valadez quotes a clinical psychologist who said, "We can’t predict it, but we can definitely try to do our best to prevent it, especially with the new techniques that are coming up and, obviously, the fact that we’re making people aware that, the new slogan is ‘it’s okay not to be okay.’"

He adds that, "With everything that goes on in life, people are going to have bad days so it’s okay not to be okay."

Chief Valadez said reasons for suicides range from financial and marital or personal relationship issues to work-related reasons, like the "negative treatment they get on the street" which he said definitely wears on them.

Oak Brook Police Chief Jim Kruger said suburban officers deal with many of the same stressors as city cops.

"We’re all facing some of the same traumas and some of the same frustrations in the profession. That really doesn’t end at a border," he said.

Chief Kruger said it's a national issue.

Deputy Chief Valadez said every level from patrol officer to chief is taking part in the suicide prevention seminar.

He said it’s estimated that, for every one officer killed in the line of duty, four officers take their own lives and that, "those are the ones that we truly know were suicides."

Frank Gross of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is a former Chicago police commander and said that, "With every incident an officer sees, it’s like a pebble in your backpack. They keep on getting heavier and heavier and sometimes it can all come crashing down."

The all-day seminar is being held at the Hyatt Lodge Training Center (Hamburger University) in Oak Brook. Participants come from city, suburban and state police departments. The seminar has been sponsored annually for several years by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.