The New South Wales Police Commissioner is determined to honor officers who took their own lives — as a result of mental harm they suffered in the course of their duties.
While he hopes to have agreement among other police commissioners around the country, NSW Commissioner Andrew Scipione says, even if he has to “go it alone”, he will be recognizing those officers who’ve committed suicide.
He adds that, based on criteria they’ve established, the officers’ names will be included on the NSW Wall of Remembrance at The Domain in Sydney. Each year, the names of police officers who died in the line of duty are etched in police memorial walls across the country, but the current criteria, does not include cases of suicide.
During an interview with ABC News, Australia, Scipione talked about how much this change would mean to the families who’ve lost loved ones in this way.
“The greatest appreciation I have of that would be to put myself in their shoes and I know that that would mean a lot… and again we need to do the right thing,” he said.
Janet Hill, who lost her son to suicide in 2009, praised Scipione for showing tremendous leadership on this issue. Janet says her son developed “severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a series of traumatic incidents on the job.”
She’s been campaigning for “One Wall for All” since 2009 and hopes the commissioner’s decision will help other families in similar situations.
“There are many, many serving officers and retired officers who suffer [from] PTSD and various forms of psychological injury and they will be heartened by seeing their colleagues honored for the service that they gave, not for the way that they died,” Hill said.
Scipione proposed the changes during a meeting of state and territory police commissioners in Melbourne last week. He’s confident they will reach an agreement.
However, he also stated that while “the criteria for inclusion on the Police Memorial Wall was part of an inter-governmental agreement, he would introduce the change in NSW, irrespective of whether he could get agreement from other police commissioners.”
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