'Police work is tough work': CBS special highlights Chicago PD's mental health 'crisis'

The CBS special, "Code Blue: Officers in crisis," takes a deeper look at what the department can do to provide better mental health support for officers

Suicide is always preventable. If you are having thoughts of suicide or feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 800-273-8255. Counselors are also available to chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Remember: You deserve to be supported, and it is never too late to seek help. Speak with someone today.

By Sarah Calams 

CHICAGO — In the past month, two Chicago officers and one sergeant have died by suicide. Chicago Police Superintended David Brown said the department is in a “crisis” during a news conference last week, while also highlighting department resources for officers, including counseling services and an employee assistance program.  

Last month, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance to extend LODD benefits to families of officers who died by suicide. And most recently, Chicago aldermen drafted a “time off” ordinance for police to “limit the ability of the Chicago Police Department to cancel regularly scheduled days off.”  

A new special from CBS Chicago, “Code Blue: Officers in crisis,” takes a deeper look at what the department can do to provide better mental health support for Chicago officers. In the special, reporters hear from officers’ family members, including the brother of Sgt. Patricia Swank, a six-year veteran, who died by suicide earlier this month.

“She was exhausted. She was overworked,” Swank’s brother, Ryan, said, noting she had worked 22 days in a row before dying by suicide. “I’m angry. We’re not even giving [officers] enough time off to process what they see.”  

Reporters also hear from a Chicago officer-turned-psychologist, who speaks about her firsthand experience while working as an officer and how the department can turn the tide. 

Watch the full special below.

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