The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department reported the horrific news today that four officers (two active, two retired) ended their lives within a 24-hour period on Tuesday alone.
Nothing has surfaced that suggests something nefarious or connected has taken place, although the department's homicide bureau will be conducting a thorough investigation. The suicides happened so quickly that the third and fourth deaths were discovered in tandem with news of the first two.
"We are stunned to learn of these deaths, and it has sent shock waves of emotions throughout the department as we try and cope with the loss of not just one, but four beloved active and retired members of our department family," [Sheriff Robert] Luna said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "During trying times like these it's important for personnel regardless of rank or position to check on the well-being of other colleagues and friends."
These tragic losses are part of a staggering statistical trend. Recent studies reveal that not only in LA, but across the nation, police departments are losing more officers to suicide than in the line of duty.
So far in 2023, 88 police officers have committed suicide in the United States. Last year, 172 killed themselves.
Among them was Cmdr. Darren Harris, who became a recognizable figure on TV news over a 25-year career during which he served as a chief department spokesperson. Harris was found dead in his home in Santa Clarita on Monday morning, according to multiple sources. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said the sources, who agreed to speak with The Times on the condition of anonymity because his death hasn't been publicly acknowledged.
Sometime after noon Monday, authorities found the body of Greg Hovland, a sergeant who worked in the Antelope Valley before his retirement, at his Quartz Hill home, according to the sources. Another employee was found dead shortly after sunset at a residence in Stevenson Ranch. The fourth death was reported at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, when sheriff's homicide detectives responded to a hospital in Pomona where an employee died from suicide.
Devastating events like these underscore the toll that active duty can take on officers. The story also highlights the growing need for augmented emotional and spiritual supports for those serving in a line of work that can be tremendously stressful and packed with trauma, especially in the criminal wasteland that was formerly Los Angeles, and in a nation where politicians have spent the last decade pushing anti-police narratives.
Our prayers are with the employees' families and the LA Sheriff's Department as they grieve.
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