Why Do Capitol Hill Police Keep Turning Up Dead?

On the day of the January 6 Capitol unrest, 1700 officers from 18 law enforcement agencies responded to the incident. Four officers have since died from apparent suicide.

That might seem like a point of grim trivia until one considers how atypical these suicides are. The military has long fretted over the tragically high suicide rate among our veterans, roughly “27.5 per 100,000 individuals in 2018 . . . By comparison, among all U.S. adults, the suicide rate per 100,000 was 18.3.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, men engaged in professions related to mining, quarrying, oil and gas, have the highest suicide rates of any profession (even above our veterans) at 52.2 per 100,000 per year.

All four of the officers who apparently committed suicide were among the responding officers. Four suicides in roughly six months among a sample of 1,700 suggests a suicide rate of 470 suicides per 100,000 per year. That would mean that since January 6, responding D.C.-based police commit suicide at a rate that’s almost 10 times the most suicide-prone profession and more than 20 times the rate among U.S. veterans. 

That’s a disturbing pattern and it should be investigated.

Why is this happening? The media narrative holds that these officers are delayed casualties of the January 6 breach incident. The legislation awarding gold medals to the responding officers declared, “It is the sense of the Congress that the United States Mint should expedite production of the gold medals . . . under this Act, so that the sacrifices of fallen officers and their families, . . . who answered the call of duty on January 6, 2021, can be recognized and honored in a timely manner.” 

Clearly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) counts officer suicides as casualties of the January 6 events.

But that’s a very unsatisfying explanation. The riot ended that same day and it hasn’t been repeated. The officers undoubtedly were under stress as the events unfolded. But they have not been through the kind of daily immediate physical danger experienced by a soldier patrolling in Afghanistan or a miner risking his life under millions of tons of rock. 

D.C. is a cocoon of anti-Trump culture. The media and D.C.-based politicians have publicly heaped praise and support on the responding officers. The Capitol Police budget is set to balloon and already exceeds the budget of police forces in most major American cities. The entire event was relatively short-lived and the D.C. Police have mobilized counselors and mental health services to mitigate the supposed stress of the event. There has to be another contributing factor to these apparent suicides.

Shortly after the incident, the Associated Press revealed that 31 of the suspects who breached the Capitol were also law enforcement officers. Business Insider reported that police departments were facing “pressure to weed out white nationalists.” While there was no suggestion that any of the protesters were off-duty Capitol police, the headline strongly suggests that D.C.-area police forces have begun to look into the politics of its officers. How do the political commissars hunting “white nationalists” define their quarry? Within D.C., the term basically means “Republican.”

Can any of these suicides be linked to an effort to purge the D.C.-area police? Were any of the four officers confronted with threats of public humiliation for their private politics? One cannot ignore that the highly publicized effort to weed out “white nationalists” within law enforcement coincided with the sudden rash of suicides.

I’ve found no reference in any article to a suicide note or other direct evidence that might help shed light on the motives of the officers believed to have taken their own lives. Instead, as always, the tragedies were simply shoehorned into the greater political narrative—namely, that the January 6 protestors killed police officers, directly or indirectly.

This is not the first time the media distorted the facts to reinforce the January 6 narrative. 

In April, the New York Times revised a January 8, 2021 article that previously claimed a Trump supporter used a fire extinguisher to murder Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick died of a stroke on January 7 and the medical examiner found no link to any injury allegedly sustained during the melee the day before. Yet the Times continues to claim, without evidence, that Sicknick, “died on Thursday night from injuries sustained while physically engaging with pro-Trump rioters who descended on the U.S. Capitol the day before.” In spite of the thousands of cameras that recorded events from every angle, no suspect has ever been charged with inflicting the injuries that supposedly caused Sicknick’s death.

Adding to the puzzle are the other mysterious deaths among the protestors. In addition to the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, the Times reported that three other protestors died of “natural causes.” 

The reporting on the January 6 Capitol incursion is a symptom of an accelerating trend—a kind of journalistic macular degeneration. Like an elderly person slowly losing her eyesight, our country is becoming fact-blind as politicized and often erroneous reporting crowds out real news. How many more officers need to die before we start looking at what might be causing this tragic pattern?

Editor’s note:  An earlier version of this article erroneously set the number of responding officers at 1150, not 1700. The article has also been corrected to reflect the fact that the four responding officers believed to have committed suicide were not all from the Capitol Police force.

About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

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