Chicago cop, ready to retire, dies in apparent suicide in North Side station

Officer James Daly’s death is part of an alarming problem involving suicide in the Chicago Police Department.

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Chicago Police Supt. David Brown (above) on Monday announced the death of Officer James Daly, saying in a statement to the media: “Today, I mourn alongside everyone in the department.” In a separate statement to rank-and-file officers, Brown disclosed that Daly died of an apparent suicide.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown (above) on Monday announced the death of Officer James Daly.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

A 47-year-old Chicago police officer who had planned to retire died early Monday in the Town Hall police station on the North Side of an apparent suicide.

Officer James Daly was a 21-year veteran of the department, according to police Supt. David Brown, who said he was “heartbroken.”

Daly was planning to retire soon, police sources said.

A source on the Chicago police pension board said Daly had submitted an application for a pension but the board notified him about two weeks ago that he was too young to collect one. He needed to be at least 50 years old, the source said.

Daly was found dead of a gunshot wound at 2:52 a.m. in the men’s locker room of the police station at 850 W. Addison St., a police source said.

“Our job is not easy, especially during these trying times,” Brown said. “The ripple effect of this tragedy will be felt by many for a long time to come. I ask you to check in with each other and keep each other close as we cope with this grief together.”

He reminded officers of the peer support available through the department’s licensed therapists and chaplains ministry.

Last year, a police supervisor shot himself to death in the Homan Square police facility on the West Side. Deputy Chief Dion Boyd was found dead of a gunshot wound July 28.

Suicides are a major concern in the Chicago police department. The department’s suicide rate in 2017 was 60% higher than the nationwide average for police, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the latest in a string of officer suicides is a reminder of the “incalculable” toll the coronavirus pandemic has had on mental health. Under pressure to reopen mental-health clinics shuttered by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lightfoot instead announced a “neighborhood-focused” mental health plan in the fall of 2019.

“We want to make sure that people reach out. Call 311. Call 911. There’s an array of services that we offer as a city to safeguard your privacy and your security. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out. You are not in this by yourself,” the mayor said.

“We’ll find out more details around the officer but what I can just say is that our heart breaks as a city for that person, for that family and certainly for the members of the department, not only in the 19th District. This is something that will resonate across law enforcement here in Chicago.”

Last year after Boyd died, Ald. Chris Taliaferro, chairman of the City Council’s public safety committee and a former police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the police department should have at least one licensed clinical psychologist in each of its 22 districts and five areas. Taliaferro had worked with Boyd in the Bureau of Internal Affairs.

Brown tweeted Monday that the department is asking NAMI Chicago, a mental-health advocacy group, to “support and implement a comprehensive officer wellness strategy.”

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