The tragic problem with police no one wants to talk about (Opinion)
A 21-year veteran of the Trenton Police Department took his own life in a Plainsboro parking lot, according to a report on NJ.com. Sgt. Daniel Pagnotta was loved by everyone he worked with, according to Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. A statement released by the department said he was a husband and father of two and had carried on in his father’s footsteps who is a retired Trenton officer.
Not much more was said. The entire article was only 8 sentences long. Sadly for those who did not know and love him, his death will be tragically forgotten by the public. We should all care.
We should all care because Daniel was far from an isolated incident. Look, I’m not going to pretend to know more than I do. I have no idea what brought him to this. I don’t know what was going on his personal life and I don’t know what stress he was under as a police officer. It’s not my business. I don’t need to know.
But what I do know is suicidal is very prevalent among the ranks of officers across the country. And we should all care.
You can march for justice all you want. Yes, there are some bad cops and some changes need be made. Those demonstrations have their place. But when all is said and done if we don’t have people willing to guard the flock and maintain order we will not have a society worth living in. We assume there will always be police officers because men and women have always been willing to step up and take a dangerous job that doesn’t pay nearly enough. But it’s getting harder by the day. Trust is eroding. The public isn’t backing them the way they should. Calls go out for defunding police. Too many are assuming bad instead of good within them.
I won’t pretend to know how hard it must be to be a police officer. The statistics are telling though.
In a story from September of last year on AddictionCenter.com, a study shows police are at a higher risk of suicide than any other job category. In 2018 167 officers ended their own lives. By August of last year with four more months yet to come that number was already 134, on pace to be even higher than 2018.
The most sobering statistic from that article may be this one. The number of cops who died by suicide is more than triple the number of cops who were fatally injured in the line of duty. So the greatest risk to a police officer is themself.
We should all care about this. The numbers may be even higher because of the stigma involved. Some families try to suppress the cause of death. We’ve come a long way in recognizing PTSD in our military and the huge problem of suicide among veterans. We need to recognize that we may all play a part in the stress police officers are under.
There’s a great organization that offers support to officers who are hurting. It’s called Blue HELP. If you want to understand more about how big a problem this is among law enforcement check out their website. Thank God we have organizations like this that care and are trying to shed light on the issue.
We should all care.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.