What to Know
- A fourth NYPD officer has died by suicide in the last three weeks, authorities confirmed Thursday
- The off-duty officer, a veteran cop assigned to the Bronx who has a wife and several children, shot himself at his Long Island home
- Since the start of June a deputy chief, a senior detective and a patrol officer have also taken their own lives
A fourth NYPD officer has died by suicide in the last three weeks, escalating a recent crisis that has caused all levels of police leadership to speak out on the need for cops to look after their mental health and that of their colleagues.
Ofc. Kevin Preiss, a 24-year veteran assigned to the 50th Precinct in the Bronx who has a wife and several children, shot himself at his home on Long Island, law enforcement sources familar with the investigation told News 4 Thursday.
Frank Dowling, a psychiatrist and the medical advisor to POPPA -- a confidential, nonprofit assistance program for NYPD officers -- also tweeted the news.
"Fourth NYPD suicide in very short time frame. NYPD Officers-look In the mirror-take a good look at your coworker. See a 1085 or 1013-ask for help. Ask your partner are you ok? Tell them to get help. POPPA. Confidential. Career saving. Family saving. Life saving. @poppanyc," Dowling tweeted around 7:40 a.m.
The veteran officer has a legacy of service, including helping save a man's life when he had a heart attack at a Manhattan Dunkin' Donuts three days before Christmas in 2016.
Preiss told The Riverdale Press a month later that he and his partner had learned the victim was a Manhattan College security guard so went to check on him the next night.
“I’ve always enjoyed the part [of the job] where you actually help someone in need," Preiss told The Press at the time. "We do a lot of what you call lift jobs where we help old people that fall out of bed — that’s the kind of thing that I enjoy."
Preiss was also among the first officers at the scene of a Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that killed four people and hurt about 60 in 2013.
This most recent officer's death follows the June 5 suicide of Deputy Chief Steven Silks, the June 6 death of Det. Joseph Calabrese and the June 14 death of 29-year-old officer Michael Caddy at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island.
Earlier this month, after the deaths of Silks and Calabrese a day apart, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill spoke exclusively with News 4 about the need for cops to seek help if they find themselves contemplating taking their own lives.
"To have two people kill themselves within 10 hours is just - nothing brings us to our knees, but this is close," O'Neill said.
He also sent a note to all 55,000 officers and civilian employees of the NYPD, saying in part, "before you can take care of others, it's imperative that you first take care of yourselves. Seeking help is never a sign of weakness -- it's a sign of great strength."
The officers' deaths come after News 4 highlighted growing concerns among members of law enforcement regarding police suicides. An I-Team survey of police across the country found 78 percent experienced critical stress on the job, with 68 percent saying that stress triggered unresolved emotional issues.
Sixteen percent said that they had thoughts of suicide. Despite those numbers nine out of 10 officers said there is a stigma attached to seeking help.
"This has to be a continuous process. This has to be done at roll calls. This has to be done in video training," O'Neill said. We need to talk about this. This can’t be a deep dark secret. People have to understand that there is help available."
O'Neill is asking NYPD officers and employees who need help to call the department's employee assistance hotline at 646-610-6730.
More recent coverage:
- Officer Takes Life Outside Staten Island Stationhouse
- NYC's Top Cop Speaks on Mental Health After NYPD Suicides
- Missing NYPD Homicide Detective Found Dead by Suicide
- NYPD Deputy Chief With 38 Years of Service Takes His Own Life
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.