An NYPD chief officer shot himself in the head while inside an unmarked patrol vehicle on June 5, about a month before his obligatory retirement.
Steven Silks was found dead in a parking lot at the 112th Precinct Station house, a few blocks away from his office. He was the deputy chief of Queens North, according to law enforcement sources, reported the NY Post.
A New York City police chief facing mandatory retirement due to his age has died by suicide after shooting himself in the head. Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, had 39 years on the job and was an executive officer in Queens. He had sought a promotion to two-star chief. pic.twitter.com/bES65zqBU9
— Ashley Southall 2020 ???????? (@AshleyAtTimes) June 6, 2019
The 62-year-old officer was about to turn 63 and face mandatory retirement.
He was found at about 6:45 p.m. by a security guard for the nearby West Side Tennis Club. He was wearing civilian clothes with the gun by his side, reported the Daily News. Officers responding at the scene didn’t initially know that the suicide victim was a police officer, they said.
Silks was taken to the Elmhurst Hospital, but they didn’t succeed in saving him.
Brooklyn mourns the awful loss of @NYPDQueensNorth Deputy Chief Steve Silks. After one year in policing, you encounter a lifetime of stress. Just imagine 38 years. If you’re an officer, confidential crisis counseling is available by texting BLUE to 741741. https://t.co/g0GUDHJDgL
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) June 6, 2019
“It’s terrible he would find himself in that place,” a Queens detective at the scene told The NY Post. “Say a prayer for his family.”
Silks “absolutely lived for the NYPD,” said another police source.
“He loved what he did. He was admired and loved by everybody. It’s heartbreaking,” the officer stated.
Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, told the NY Daily News: “I am speechless, Steve was an incredibly dedicated and great guy. He was great at what he does. This is a terrible loss.”
“He ran a 3:09 New York Marathon at one point in his life and reached the summit of Mount Everest. He coordinated the U.S. Open on a regular basis.” Richter continued, “He was part of the fabric of just about every major police event over the last couple of decades … He’s a reliable guy, he’s very friendly. He was a good friend. How do you describe a good friend? He was always someone you could rely on when you needed support.”
Sources said Silks submitted his retirement papers on Tuesday. He had been working in the NYPD for almost 39 years, several of those years he had been the commander of the NYPD firing range in the Bronx.
The lights of Chanukah will stay with our family forever. No words. The city of NY and the world lost a very special soul today. RIP my friend, Chief Steven Silks. A real friend and a gem of a human being. pic.twitter.com/hiksu2cz64
— Zvi Gluck (@zgluck) June 6, 2019
“His family lives out of state. He’s not married. He absolutely lived for the NYPD,” said a fellow cop and friend of Silks. “He was admired and loved by everybody he worked with. He was aged out. He’s the kind of guy who would have served until he died of natural causes.”
He was reportedly saddened because of the fact that he was going to retire.
Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement on June 5 on the death of NYPD Deputy Chief Steven Silks:
“Tonight is a sad night for New Yorkers—we have lost a deeply respected public servant, who dedicated more than 39 years to putting his life on the line to protect others. The passing of NYPD Deputy Chief Steven Silks is heartbreaking, and we are profoundly saddened by his untimely loss. We grieve alongside and offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the entire NYPD.”
According to data gathered by NBC New York, 140 police officers committed suicide in 2017, 140, adding up to a higher per capita rate compared to civilians.
Five years ago today my friend Mike Scarcella committed suicide.
Today my friend Steve Silks committed suicide.
Both honorable men and great cops.
Friends – You are not alone. If you need help, it’s a phone-call away. pic.twitter.com/NtA3g21Wo9
— Steven Weiss (@steveODMP) June 6, 2019
In an I-Team survey of police officers across the country, 78 percent said they experienced critical stress, 68 percent said that stress caused unresolved emotional issues, and 16 percent responded that they had suicidal thoughts. Even with the above-mentioned numbers, 9 out of 10 officers said there is a stigma adhered to seeking help.