The NYPD was rocked Wednesday as Deputy Chief Steven Silks was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his police vehicle, not far from the precinct station where he worked.
Less than 24 hours later, officers’ grief was amplified as the body of homicide detective Joseph Calabrese was found at Brooklyn’s Plumb Beach, reports the New York Times. The officer, who had gone missing after leaving a hospital where his wife was undergoing a minor procedure, likewise died of a self-inflicted gunshot, per NBC New York.
“To the cops here today, I need you to know, help is available to you. … You are never alone,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference. It’s unclear if the officers knew each other; CNN reports the department is the largest in the US, with some 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees.
Facing mandatory retirement ahead of his 63rd birthday in July, Silks was “one of the most capable and most dependable cops this job has ever seen,” O’Neill said. He spent 38 years with the department.
Calabrese, a 58-year-old father of four, had been there for 37 years.
Both now join a list of 48 NYC officers who’ve died by suicide over the last decade. Four of those died last year, officials said, noting more US officers have died by suicide in recent years than have been killed in the line of duty.
The department held a symposium on suicide involving more than 300 officers and researchers this April.
“We must not pretend that these things don’t happen, or that such tragic deaths are somehow a fact of life,” O’Neill wrote in a note to department members, per CNN. “We have to take action now. We have to discuss mental health.”