Four current and former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department employees have died by suicide over 24 hours in a shocking tragedy that has rocked the city’s law enforcement community.
Three current employees and one former employee died by suicide in a 24-hour span that began on Monday.
The first death was of Commander Darren Harris, who had served as the sheriff’s department’s chief spokesperson during his 25-year career. Harris was reportedly found dead in his Santa Clarita home Monday morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Later on Monday afternoon, authorities found the body of Sergeant Greg Hovland at his Quartz Hill home. Another employee was found dead just after sunset at a home in Stevenson Ranch. The next day, around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a fourth sheriff’s department employee was reported dead by suicide at a Pomona hospital. Sheriff’s homicide detectives responded to the scene.
Already this year, four other sheriff’s department employees had died by suicide, an agency spokesperson said.
Sheriff Robert Luna said the department’s Homicide Bureau would investigate the deaths and urged deputies to check on each other in the wake of the deaths.
“We are stunned to learn of these deaths, and it has sent shock waves of emotions throughout the department as we try and cope with the loss of not just one, but four beloved active and retired members of our department family,” Luna said Tuesday in a statement.
“During trying times like these it’s important for personnel regardless of rank or position to check on the well-being of other colleagues and friends,” the sheriff said.
Luna said the department is “urgently exploring avenues to reduce work stress factors to support our employees’ work and personal lives.” The sheriff added that the department’s Psychological Services Bureau and the Injury and Health Support Unit is working to provide counseling and other resources to the families of the officers.
Since the pandemic, many in law enforcement say police departments have been suffering from flagging morale thanks to a wave of anti-police sentiment that peaked with the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. In some cases, city councils slashed police budgets, leaving some police chiefs feeling abandoned as they are stretched thin trying to keep residents safe.
Many police departments have also seen a mass exodus of officers over the last several years, along with difficulty hiring new officers.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.