Cops, Guns, & Suicide

Silhouette of man with gun to head.

In today’s headlines:

Chicago Deputy Police Chief Shoots Himself, Latest in Long History of Suicides at the Department.

During my five years with the Phoenix Police Department, I lost count of the number of times cops either committed or threatened to commit suicide…and always by the same method: With a gun.

Most incidents I recall involved active-duty cops who were either drunk or on drugs and were distraught over a failed relationship. In all of these cases, none of the cops went through with the act, but they did succeed in manipulating and traumatizing the women whom their gun-waving, suicidal hysteria targeted. None of the cops were fired or seriously disciplined for their substance abuse, misuse of their service weapon, or involvement of police intervention (some requiring police barricades). They were simply given a slap on the wrist, told to sober up, and then put back on the streets, usually the very next day.

Then there were the cops who actually went through with the act of suicide, usually cops who’d retired from the force and couldn’t handle the loss of authority and impunity they’d enjoyed while serving. Sometimes they’d call the PPD’s Crime Stop line just to advise someone of their intention, dumping their troubles on and traumatizing the Communications Operator who’d had the bad luck to have gotten the call. Some even blew their brains out while on the line with the Com Op, without a care or concern for the emotional damage they might be causing to the person on the other end of the Crime Stop line. Honestly, I’d never met so many F’ed up, mentally unstable people as when I worked for the Phoenix PD. Those years were filled with ‘crazy’, with a capital ‘C’.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Chapter 46 of Crazy 101, Book I: The Dungeon, a fictionalized scene based on a true incident that happened to a friend of mine, a fellow Com Op:

Doors locked. Check. Security alarm code set. Check. Dressed for bed. Check. Wine generously poured. Check…

Dressed in her favorite flannel nightgown, Chablis in hand, Lina leaned back on her sofa and put her feet up on the coffee table. For the first time since Sergeant Baylor had entered her life, she was truly able to relax. Marley’s news from earlier in the day—that Baylor had been transferred—was such a rush of relief, all she had been able to think about the entire rest of the shift was this, being at home fully relaxing with a celebratory glass of wine in the sanctuary of her own apartment. It was Friday night and she looked forward to a carefree weekend. She and Kerri had tentative plans to hit Metrocenter and drop some hard-earned cash at Diamonds, then watch the ice skaters from the second-floor food court while they lunched on tacos and Margaritas.

On cue, the phone began to ring, as if just the thought of a shopping spree with her sister telepathically beckoned her sister to call. It was late for a phone call—11:30 p.m.—but then again, it was a Friday night, so Kerri, like herself would still be up and wide awake.

Lina plucked the phone from its cradle, “I was just thinking about you!”

There was long silence on the other end of the line.


“And I’ve been thinking about you.”

It was Baylor. And he was drunk.

“I asked you not to call me anymore.”

“I want you to listen to me very carefully,” said Baylor, in a voice so icy, it sent chills through Lina. “I’m at the Travel Inn motel in Tucson and I’m holding a gun to my head…”

Lina instantly stiffened, her heart and mind racing.

“…it takes one hour and fifty minutes to drive here from Phoenix, so if you’re not here in exactly two hours, I will pull the trigger and I will kill myself.”

Lina began to tremble. She’d been trained as a Com Op on how to deal with suicides: keep them calm and talking while radio dispatches an officer. But she was at home, not at work, so all she could do was to keep him on the line and try to talk him down. “I don’t think you really want to do that, let me call someone for you—”


There was a tension in his voice that told Lina he was deadly serious. “Sergeant Baylor, let me get you some help,” she pleaded.

“If you want to help, if you want to stop me from pulling this trigger, than do as I say. Do not call anyone, not our department and not the Tucson Police, do you hear me?”

“Yes, but I—”

“If you call the police, I will take out as many officers as I can before I turn the gun on myself. Do you understand?”

“Yes, but…”

No buts! Just do as I tell you!

“I will, I will,” she cried, too scared now to do anything but obey.

“Write down this address: 6161—”

“Wait!” Lina frantically searched the end table’s drawer for something to write with.

“—East Benson Highway. Room 148.”

Lina scribbled down the address

“Did you get that?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Repeat it back to me.”

“The Travel Inn, 6161 East Benson Highway.”

“Room number?”


“It’s forty eight! Room one forty eight!”

“Forty, I got it, I got it, room one forty eight.”

“You now have one hour and fifty-five minutes to get here.” Baylor then issued his last words to her before hanging up—possibly the last words he’d ever speak:

“The clock is ticking. Tick. Tock.”

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