(USA Features) A spokeswoman for the National Police Association ripped the Democratic left for blaming a series of suicides by members of the U.S. Capitol Police and Metro DC Police departments on the Jan. 6 riot they responded to.
Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, who spent 29 years with a suburban department in the Chicago area, told the Daily Mail that it’s impossible to know why those officers took their lives so it’s not fair or wise to continue blaming it on the Capitol incident for political gain.
Smith told the outlet that she and other officers are fed up with Washington Democrats and “the media” over their responses to the suicides of officers Howard Liebengood, Jeffrey Smith, Gunther Hashida and Kyle Defreytag.
Two of the widows, Serena Liebengood and Erin Smith, say their riots caused the suicides and they are trying to get their spouse’s deaths ruled as having occurred in the line of duty.
But Smith, “who has advocated publicly about the mental health of cops and campaigns for greater support for them” as a spokeswoman for the association, said suicide is all too common among American law enforcement, as a whole, the Daily Mail notes.
“We don’t know why these officers committed suicide. Police officers see horrible things every day from the minute they get out of the police academy,” she told the outlet.
“We don’t know why any police officer kills themselves unless they leave a detailed accounting of why they killed themselves and most do not,” she added.
“To my knowledge, none of [these four] officers left any kind of detailed accounting of why. That’s why it’s important that we don’t assume, and we don’t politicize,” Smith continued. “We will never know.”
She went on to note that certain political elements were making a much bigger issue of the Capitol riot and the resultant police suicides than they were other rioting and mistreatment of police officers that occurred all last year around the country.
“That’s what law enforcement around the country is finding so distasteful about this… that one riot in one area, and suddenly police suicide is a big deal,” she said.
“No one is talking about all the other cops who are killing themselves. The politicization of this topic is abhorrent,” Smith told the outlet.
Nationally, police suicides are higher than with the rest of the population, the Daily Mail reported. For police, 17 out of 100,000 take their own lives versus the 13 per 100,000 in the general population.
“Police officers in the US commit suicide about twice as often or sometimes a little more as we are killed by felonious assault. In other words, we kill ourselves at least twice as often as the bad guys kill us,” Smith said.
“It’s been a problem for the last 20 years, it’s just now getting some additional attention.”
Smith went on to say that if the Capitol officers’ suicides are determined to be line-of-duty deaths, then all police suicides should be.
“I’d sure love to see a bipartisan group of politicians stand up and declare that they are going to commit unprecedented resources to police officers mental health around the nation not just in DC,” she said.
“If they want to make this an issue, they can’t just make it an issue about January 6.”
“There are prominent Democrats only focusing on January 6 and those officers involved and prominent Republicans who are saying nothing. They say they back the blue but they’re not doing a good job of it. Ultimately, I have to blame the American media,” she continued.
“The American media is not telling the truth about American law enforcement. The American media since Ferguson on, I’ve talked to the media every day, they have constantly vilified and lied about American law enforcement,” she continued, adding, “It’s reaching a crisis point.”
She went on to discuss what has been happening to officers for years in other parts of the country.
“Talk to the federal law enforcement officers who night after night, were in the courthouse in Portland while Antifa set fire to it,” Smith told the Daily Mail.
“Talk to the officer in Vegas who is paralyzed from being shot in the head by a Black Lives Matter protester. Talk to the police officers who had Molotov cocktails and bottles of urine thrown at them, and had people scream at them saying, ‘I hope your kids get raped,'” she said.
“If people are concerned about this, they need to see all of it, not just January 6.”