The head of the NYPD union, in response to a spate of cop suicides, called on politicians Thursday to “end the demonization and anti-cop rhetoric” as he sought to rally officers and tackle the crisis by improving conditions on the force.
This included a call to increase pay and provide top-quality mental health services to New York’s Finest.
New York Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Patrick Lynch had a clear, no-nonsense message for officers who may be considering taking their own lives: “If you’re on the edge and contemplating suicide, don’t f---ing do it. Come on, it solves nothing and leaves devastation behind you. Just don’t do it.”
But Lynch, known for his fiery defense of his fellow officers on the ground, also used the video message to call on politicians to back the city’s officers, stop demonizing them and do more than what he described as “a few tweets and mental health awareness posters.”
“To the politicians proclaiming this is a crisis, just stop, we’ve been very clear about what we need, provide mental health benefits that will cover the high-quality professional treatment we need and accommodate us when we’re in crisis,” he said.
In 2018, at least 159 officers nationally died by suicide, 9 percent more than the total number of officers killed in the line of duty, according to Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit run by active and retired police officers. New York state had one of the highest numbers of officer suicides, with 10 officers dying by suicide in 2018. Only Texas and California suffered more police suicides.
The suicides in New York City indicate a significant increase already in 2019.
The PBA has been fighting for years to push back against what it sees as increasingly anti-cop rhetoric from top New York politicians, particularly Mayor Bill de Blasio. Officers followed de Blasio to Detroit last month to protest his appearance at the Democratic presidential primary debate and call on him to come back to the city and negotiate contracts.
This month, the union tore into de Blasio over his handling of the case of the officer charged in the death of Eric Garner, with Lynch telling him the police department is “frozen.”
De Blasio said this week that the city was in mourning over the officers’ deaths and promised that “we won’t let anyone struggle alone.”
“I want every one of New York’s Finest to know we are here for you. We value you. Help is available. Please reach out,” he said in a tweet, while amplifying advice and guidance from the NYPD’s account.
De Blasio also wrote to officers urging those who need it to get help, and recounting his own father’s death to suicide when the future mayor was 18. “I don’t have any easy answers or quick fixes,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Post. “But I want to say: Help is always here.”
On Thursday, Lynch did not name de Blasio or any other politician but said the attacks on the men and women in blue had to stop.
“End the demonization and anti-cop rhetoric, reduce the bureaucratic torment of the job rather than adding to it all the time, pay us like other police officers and treat us like professionals – you are offering none of that,” he said. “Instead, you continue to grandstand on the back of police officers, and show up when we’re dead, you continue to find new ways to undermine our work and torture us whenever we turn up for work, and you think a few tweets and mental health awareness posters will make up for it – well it won’t.”
He ended by again rallying his officers, telling them they had to stick together.
“We’re under siege from all directions and the only defense we have is each other. Never, under any circumstance, should you permanently walk away from the people who love you – and yes that includes us, your brother and sister police officers,” he said.
Lynch is not the only police official to lose his patience with politicians' rhetoric. On Thursday, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, William McSwain, ripped into city District Attorney Larry Krasner in the wake of the shooting of six officers in the city on Wednesday.
McSwain blamed Krasner for fostering what he called an environment of "disrespect for law enforcement" that emboldened the gunman to open fire at officers from the Philadelphia Police Department's Narcotics Strike Force who were attempting to serve a warrant in the Nicetown neighborhood.
"Where does such disrespect come from?" McSwain said. "It started with chants at the DA's victory party -- chants of 'F--- the police' and 'No good cops in a racist system.'"
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.
[Editor's note: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).]