National Police Association rep slams left for politicizing cop suicides after Jan. 6 riot
A veteran Chicago cop who serves as spokeswoman for the National Police Association has reportedly blasted the left for suggesting that the Capitol riot was the reason four officers committed suicide after responding to the insurrection.
Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith told the Daily Mail that “we will never know” why Kyle DeFreytag, Gunther Hashida, Jeffrey Smith and Howard Liebengood took their own lives after the Jan. 6 riot.
The 29-year veteran told the news outlet that she and her colleagues have become disgusted as they believe that DC Democrats and the media have politicized the deaths.
“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. 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,” Brantner Smith told the outlet.
“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,” the spokeswoman for the lobbying group and charity continued.
‘We will never know. 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,” the officer said.
“No one is talking about all the other cops who are killing themselves. The politicization of this topic is abhorrent,” she added.
Two of the cops’ widows — Serena Liebengood and Erin Smith — have blamed the riot for their husbands’ suicides and are fighting to have them ruled as line-of-duty deaths.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia) are among the politicians fighting for the classification.
Freytag, a member of the Metropolitan Police, helped enforce the curfew put in place after hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump breached the Capitol Building in an effort to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results.
The five-year veteran died July 10.
Hashida, part of the department’s Emergency Response Team, was found dead in his home in late July.
Pelosi described him in a statement as “a hero, who risked his life to save our Capitol, the Congressional community and our very Democracy.
Liebengood, a Capitol police officer, committed suicide three days after the riot, while Smith, a member of the Metropolitan police force, fatally shot himself on Jan. 15, one day after he was ordered back to work.
Brantner Smith, who has advocated about the mental health of police officers, told the Daily Mail that suicide is a common tragedy across all of the nation’s law enforcement.
The suicide rate among officers is higher than it is in the wider population, according to the outlet, which reported that 13 out of every 100,000 people die by suicide in the general population, compared to 17 out of 100,000 among cops.
In 2019, 200 officers committed suicide. Last year, there were 173 officer suicides and the latest number in 2021 stood at 90, according to the report.
“It’s been a problem for the last 20 years, it’s just now getting some additional attention,” Brantner Smith said.
Last month, the officer said that Congress should hear from the thousands of cops who were injured during the George Floyd riots last year.
“People need to see that police officers go through horrible things, and Jan. 6 was a horrible thing for some of those officers,” Brantner Smith told Fox News. “But, quite frankly, I find this whole Jan. 6 Commission, frankly, a dog and pony show. It doesn’t tell the whole story.”
She said that officers who testified before a House select committee have been “politicized by Congress.”
Brantner Smith said that if the four suicides are ruled as line-of-duty deaths, DC lawmakers must also consider all cop suicides the same.
“I’m glad that now police suicide is in the forefront of the media but I wonder how long it’s going to last,” she told the Daily Mail.
“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,” Brantner Smith said.
“Talk to the federal law enforcement officers who, night after night, were in the courthouse in Portland while Antifa set fire to it. 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 Jan. 6,” the officer added.