An off-duty NYPD officer has committed suicide on Long Island, becoming the fourth city cop this month to take his own life, police sources said Thursday.
The Bronx cop, identified by sources as 53-year-old Kevin Preiss, was found dead in his Nassau County home from a gunshot wound to the head late Wednesday, police and neighbors said. He was the sixth cop to die by their own hand so far this year, officials said.
Shocked neighbors said Preiss was on the porch of his Hicksville home when he shot himself about 10 p.m. Several relatives were inside the home at a family gathering when he took his own life.
“It’s horrible that a person would be driven to that — not be able to get the help they need and feel so helpless,” said neighbor Ellen McGreevy. “I can’t imagine what drove him to that point.”
The married father of three spent nearly all of his career on patrol in the Bronx’s 50th Precinct, which covers Riverdale and surrounding neighborhoods. He was just three days away from celebrating his 25th year with the NYPD, sources said.
On Wednesday, people were still cleaning up Preiss’ blood, which stained the driveway of his home.
“He was a hero, he saved babies and everything,” one cop visiting the home Thursday said.
Preiss and his partner Police Officer Roland Benson were hailed for performing CPR on a heart attack victim at a Dunkin’ Donuts near Manhattan College in December 2015, bringing the stricken man back to life.
“I’ve always enjoyed the part [of the job] where you actually help someone in need,” Preiss told the Riverdale Press after making the save. “We do a lot of what you call lift jobs where we help old people that fall out of bed — that’s the kind of thing that I enjoy.”
In recent years, four or five active NYPD cops have been committing suicide a year, so to now have six suicides before July is especially alarming to police brass.
“I want to find a way to protect my men and women,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said Thursday. “How we can handle this better? How we can help out people? Cops run out, day in day out, and save people’s lives that we don’t know. We have to figure out a way to save our own lives.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and other top brass have posted videos on social media where they urge despondent cops to ask for help. So far, two cops have come forward, authorities said.
On June 14, Police Officer Michael Caddy fatally shot himself inside a car parked near the 121st Precinct station house in Staten Island. An off-duty officer discovered him.
On June 5, Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, fatally shot himself not long after filing his retirement papers. He was found shortly before dawn near Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. The next morning, the NYPD frantically searched for a missing detective, Joseph Calabrese, 58, after his car was found near Plum Beach, alongside the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Calabrese’s body was found that afternoon.
Wednesday’s suicide came amid word that a retired NYPD cop also committed suicide this week.
Retired Officer Donghai Hu, 51, hung himself inside his College Point, Queens, home over the weekend. His body was discovered Monday, the World Journal Chinese newspaper reported. He joined the department in 2006 and served as a Housing Bureau cop before retiring in 2017, officials said.
Relatives told the World Journal that Hu suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the military.
The department’s Employee Assistance Unit, Early Intervention Unit, Chaplain’s office and the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, known as POPPA, offer services and provide help to those who need it. Anyone in the NYPD needing help can reach the EAU at (646) 610-6750. POPPA can be reached by calling (888) 267-7267.
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