Another longtime New York Police Department officer has reportedly committed suicide, adding to a growing trend with no discernible end in sight.
“Former NYPD union boss and respected attorney Roy T. Richter was found dead by suicide at his Westchester home Wednesday,” the New York Post has confirmed.
He’s believed to have died a day earlier on his wife’s birthday. Richter, 56, previously served in the NYPD for 33 years, retiring in 2020 as deputy chief.
“For the last 12 years of his law enforcement career, Richter was elected to three consecutive terms as president of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association (CEA), which represents 780 active and 1,400 retired uniformed commanders ranked from captain to deputy chief,” the Post notes.
“On his final day in office, he negotiated a new contract deal that added a 10% boost to member compensation,” according to the Post.
His death has reverberated throughout the city, inspiring condolences from police groups, as well as councilmembers like Robert Holden:
Roy was a genuine cop’s cop and an outstanding union leader. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, the @CeaNypd, and all our men and women in blue.
What a heart-wrenching loss. https://t.co/XQeAruGhrg
— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) October 4, 2023
“The Captains Endowment Association mourns the passing of Past President Roy Richter. He was one of the true great labor leaders in NYC,” current CEA president Chris Monahan told the Post.
“Roy Richter was a consummate professional, highly respected across every rank in the NYPD and beyond. His positive impact on the lives of thousands of cops over the course of his union leadership will always be his legacy,” the NYC Detectives’ Endowment Association added in a Twitter statement:
The DEA Board and members send their deepest condolences to the family or Roy Richter, past CEA president. Roy was a consummate professional, highly respected across every rank in the NYPD and beyond. His positive impact on the lives of thousands of cops over the course of his… pic.twitter.com/dtRIuqdwmJ
— Detectives’ Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) October 4, 2023
Richter’s death comes amid a trend that first started piquing the public’s interest in 2019 when Time magazine ran a piece about the 10 NYPD officers who’d committed suicide that year alone.
“The rate of suicides among NYPD police officers is already higher than for other residents of New York City. The rate of suicides for uniformed NYPD personnel is 13.8 per 100,000 people (according to 2017 data) while for the city’s population overall it is 6.7 per 100,000 (according to 2016 data),” the left-wing magazine reported.
“Some officers and experts say that on-the-job trauma and stress, combined with a culture of stigmatizing mental illness, create conditions that are dangerous to officers’ mental health,” the report continued.
The report went on to cite something that Andy O’Hara, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant, had written in 2017 about the “code of secrecy” around the mental illness issues faced by cops.
“Based on 24 years experience on the job, I believe that work-related stress and depression are far more prevalent in police work than reports suggest. Law enforcement is one of the most toxic, caustic career fields in the world. But, while injuries like PTSD are increasingly acknowledged within the military, its prevalence in civilian police work goes virtually unnoticed,” O’Hara wrote.
Keep in mind the report was filed BEFORE the deadly, anti-cop Black Lives Matter riots of 2020.
In 2021, a year after the riots, Denis Mullaney, the commanding officer of the 107th precinct in Queens, killed himself, prompting Father Joseph Fonti — the priest who reportedly officiated his funeral — to beg the NYPD to “break the silence” around suicides.
“People are fragile, they break. If you suffer from cancer people run to you and they do anything for you. If you tell them you suffer from mental illness or anxiety they try but they get scared or they get uncomfortable,” he said, as reported by the Post.
“We need to address it in our own families and in the church and in the Police Department. The police in particular have been so tight-lipped about this issue,” he added.
“People are fragile, they break. If you suffer from cancer people run to you and they do anything for you. If you tell them you suffer from mental illness or anxiety they try but they get scared or they get uncomfortable.” – Father Joseph Fontihttps://t.co/PwkUN5boa2
— NYC EMS Watch (@NYCEMSwatch) April 11, 2021
The latest NYPD suicide, not including Richter’s death, occurred in March when a rookie NYPD officer shot himself to death inside his home.
“The young cop — who was discovered by his father, a retired NYPD sergeant — was appointed to the department in October 2021 and worked midnight shifts, police sources said. His father told investigators that his son seemed to be just fine before he went into his bedroom — until he heard a gunshot and ran into the room to find him mortally wounded,’ the Post reported at the time.