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The NYPD mulling requiring mental health checks for all cops

2019-09-24

A series of police suicides has the NYPD considering mandatory mental health checks for every member of the force, the department said Tuesday.

The option is part of an ongoing effort by the NYPD, working with its inspector general, Philip Eure, to develop a strategy to prevent suicide. Nine cops killed themselves this year, including a well liked chief about to retire, a union delegate and a young officer.

Eure, who works under the city’s Department of Investigation, said in a report released Tuesday that though the NYPD is taking the mental health issue seriously, more can be done.

A survey of recently retired cops reveals that 44 out of 174 — about 25% were stressed out enough at least once in their careers to consider getting help. Just a third of them actually followed through, according to Eure’s report.

Half of those 44 were worried the NYPD would find out they needed help, the study cited by Eure shows. Officers and union leaders have long said seeking help for mental health issues is a career killer in the macho world of policing.

There is a need, Eure and the NYPD agree to “create a culture that encourages officers to use these programs.”

Among key recommendations in the IG report is to look at “the feasibility of mandatory periodic mental health checks for all police officers or certain categories of at-risk officers.”

Another suggestion is to establish an “officer wellness” category in an NYPD database that serves as an online personnel file for each cop.

That database, known formally as the Risk Assessment Information Liability System, or RAILS, does not get information about domestic or alcohol-related offenses, both of which the IG believes are indicators that an intervention is needed.