Illinois cop Charles Joseph Gliniewicz spent embezzled police money on porn, vacations before ‘carefully staged’ suicide
|This cop shot himself in the head while driving|
A Concerning Trend In NJ: Police Officer Suicides Nearly Double In Past Decade
The recent death of a cop brought renewed attention to New Jersey police officer suicides, which have nearly doubled over the past decade.
By Tom Davis (Patch Staff) - Updated April 7, 2016 10:35 am ET
Police officers suicides in New Jersey are on the rise, and the state's finest are looking to spread awareness - and perhaps find solutions - to the growing problem.
The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association has reported that 19 officers committed suicide in 2015 - compared to 55 suicides involving N.J. law enforcement between 2003 and 2007, an average of 11 suicides a year.
Nearly a decade after the N.J. Police Suicide Task Force put together a report showing that the suicide trend was on the rise between 2003 and 2007, the union remains frustrated that the trend continues upward, noting that six have died so far this year.
"For every one officer killed in the line of duty (nationally), 6 will take their own life," said Capt. James Ryan of the South Brunswick Police Department, who has served as a spokesman for the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association.
The recent death of a Sayreville cop brought renewed attention to New Jersey police officer suicides, particularly since they're 30 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Ryan acknowledged that stress is always an issue, saying the union and others are doing everything they can to address the problem.
"It's the inherent nature of our job," he said. "It's the highs and lows of our job."
Detective Matthew Kurtz, 34, who once saved an 83-year-old man in a fire, was found outside the Amboy Cinemas building off the Garden State Parkway last month, the victim of suicide, authorities said.
Sayreville Police Chief John J. Zebrowski said the officer's death "sheds more light on an insidious predator that has taken his life and so many others in law enforcement as well."
"Sadly, suicide remains a leading cause of police officer deaths," he said. "Thus, the method by which he lost his life does not make our loss any less tragic. In fact, it leaves only a greater void as many questions will remain unanswered."
He also said on the department's Facebook page, following Kurtz's death:
"I am reminded of the last paragraph in the Police Officer Prayer to Saint Michael which reads: 'We will be as proud to guard the throne of God as we have been to guard the city of men.' The men and women of the Sayreville Police Department are confident that Matthew is now on that Watch and adeptly handling those duties.
"Once again, we greatly appreciate the respectful and considerate support that has been received."
In a recent study, the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health noted that the problem is not confined to New Jersey, though national numbers of suicide have actually dropped.
A six-month sampling - July through December - of suicides was taken during 2015, showing a total of 51 police suicides nationwide.
In the journal's 2012 study of police suicides, there were 141 in 2008, rising slightly to 143 in 2009 before dropping to 126 in 2012.
"This is encouraging news that we tentatively attribute to the increased number of departments adopting peer support programs and the increased willingness of officers, many of them younger, to seek professional assistance—not only when they have a problem, but before problems develop," according to the The Badge of Life website, a police officer support site that published the study.
Indeed, the New Jersey suicide task force report identified the prevalent causes of suicides involving the state's police officers - even as it's still not clear what drove Kurtz to end his life, despite the fact that he was considered a "hero" among police officers.
The report noted that the most common risk factor for suicide is a mental illness, particularly depression or bipolar disorder, which can often act as silent and undetected problems among police officers.
Other issues, according to the report (http://www.nj.gov/oag/library/NJPoliceSuicideTaskForceReport-January-30-2009-Final(r2.3.09).pdf), that are considered lethal include the fact that police officers have easy access to firearms, which could explain why the suicide rate among cops is so much higher than that of the general public.
Others issues identified include relationship problems, particularly with intimate partners, as well as acute crises on the job.
"Stress stemming from upsetting or critical incidents present a unique occupational hazard for law enforcement officers," according to the report. "Finally, factors related to shift work and the consequences of officer schedules for family relationships are also significant."
The NJSBA noted that they're working to spread awareness of the problem through the media, in schools and also on the web, providing police officers with the tools they need to deal with stressful situations.
While the work of the task force ended with the Corzine administration, Ryan noted New Jersey has a Cop 2 Cop crisis intervention hotline that offers police confidential peer counseling. It's also staffed 24 hours daily by volunteer retired law enforcement personnel and mental health professionals.
The NJSBA provides a 24-hour emergency number for Dr. Eugene Stefanelli at (732) 609-3554.
The state also provides the New Jersey Critical Incident Stress Management Team and the New Jersey Crisis Intervention Response Network, which also provide hotlines and counseling to emergency responders.
In 2015, 19 law enforcement and corrections officers committed suicide in New Jersey. That's a substantial increase from years past, when the numbers were closer to 10.
This jump in police deaths comes well after the state released the Police Suicide Task Force report and increased mental health resources to law enforcement back in 2009.
Cherie Castellano is the head of Cop2Cop, a peer-to-peer, 24-hour hotline for cops in pain. While the number of suicides has risen, so too have the numbers of calls to her hotline, she said.
"We're still continuing to see them using the line and averting suicides and using the services, so it's very confusing, even to me, who's supposed to be this national expert," she said. "I'm confused."
Of the 19 who died in 2015, Castellano said, only one officer had reached out to Cop2Cop.
The organization needs to think critically about how to combat stigma — a factor that keeps those with mentally illness from seeking help, she said.
Law enforcement carries with it certain risk factors for suicide.
"Easy access to a firearm has been demonstrated in a variety of research projects as being a potential element in someone's ability to both consider and complete suicide," said Castellano. "I think it's also a thankless job that has a lot of stress, a lot of vicarious trauma, which can lead to a deterioration in your health and well–being."
Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz used the laundered “five figures” of funds on adult websites, vacations, gym memberships and other expenses.
The cop — an Army veteran affectionately known as “G.I. Joe” — died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on duty Sept. 1.
“There are no winners here,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko said. “Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law enforcement community. The facts of his actions prove he behaved for years in a manner completely contrary to the image he portrayed.”
DEATH OF ILLINOIS POLICE OFFICER TO BE RULED SUICIDE
Gliniewicz, 52, withdrew funds from the Fox Lake Police Explorer program, which trains teens who aspire to go into law enforcement, authorities said.
They estimated the cop took about “five figures” from the program's bank account, which saw at least $250,000 flow through it.
At least two people were involved in the years of crime, police said. They did not provide further information citing the ongoing investigating. But detectives are looking into whether Gliniewicz’s wife Melodie and his son D.J. are involved with the scheme, sources told WFLD-TV Wednesday night.
The Gliniewiczes declined to comment on that report through a statement their lawyer issued.
ILLINOIS COP'S DEATH HAS MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
Gliniewicz helped manage the Explorer program — and his years mocking up crime scenes for the trainees helped him stage his own death, officials said. He took elaborate steps to try to make it look like he died in a struggle, including shooting himself twice in the torso.
Just before he died, Gliniewicz radioed that he was chasing three suspicious men on foot. Backup officers later found his body 50 yards from his squad car.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Gliniewicz was the subject of a federal sexual harassment lawsuit.
Fox Lake Police Officer Denise Sharpe accused Gliniewicz of offering to protect her job at the department in exchange for sexual favors. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit.