ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — According to the FBI, close to 600-murder-suicides occur yearly in the United States. However, for those incidents to be at the hands of a member of law enforcement is rare, and for them to happen in the same place just months apart is even rarer.
But it happened in Rochester, and now two families are mourning the loss of their loved one, causing one mother to beg the question: Do our members of law enforcement really get the help they need?
It’s been one week since two lives were lost at the hands of an off-duty Greece police officer during a domestic incident. However, it’s not the first time something like this has happened in our area, and it’s not even the first time this year. Kaye McEwen lost her daughter Janet back in March of this year after she was murdered by a Rochester police officer, who then turned the gun on himself.
“My child’s not here no more. And this other woman’s child’s not here no more,” McEwen said. “This is a very small city, and for two beautiful people to die at the hands of active duty police officer…it weighed heavy with me when my daughter died and I had to put it on the back burner because I had to learn how to put my life back together enough for the rest of my family. But when this happened, and I saw it on the news, it’s just burning in my heart again.”
Now McEwen is asking why police officers are not required to have mental health check-ins.
“They need a check-in, they got a tough job,” McEwen added. “And I’m going to ask myself forever, ‘Would a check-in have saved my child’s life?’”
In New York State, a psychological evaluation is conducted upon entering the force, but afterwards, further check-ins are not required. However, voluntary programs and resources are readily available.
“I don’t go to work, and see what a police officer sees every single day, sometimes for 12 or 18 hours straight. How many days in a row can you take that? Especially with how things are now,” McEwen said. “How good are your coping skills after years and years and years of that? And there’s no check-in? An option and check-in, to me, are two different things.”
McEwen said she’ll never know if a check-in would have saved her daughter’s life, but says she will spend the rest of her life wondering. She is asking the community to think about how police officers are supposed to serve us if they’re unable to serve themselves first.
On a voluntary basis, the Rochester Police Department (RPD) partner’s with the University of Rochester for an Officer Assistance Program (OAP). Within the last year, RPD also created an internal Officer Wellness Unit, which is not a requirement of officers, rather a program available to them if they choose to use it.
To learn more about resources for New York State Law Enforcement, click here.