Black Deputy’s Suicide Connected to Systemic Issues in Policing
On Monday, February 2nd, Deputy Clyde Kerr III of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana committed suicide at the age of 43. He was a father, a military veteran, and a beloved member of his community.
Deputy Kerr revealed his reasoning to take his own life in a series of videos made shortly before his death. He said that as a Black police officer, he simply could not participate in a system that did not value his life. He called his suicide a “protest.”
Our hearts are with his family, his former colleagues, and the students and staff of St. Genevieve School, where he served as a school resource officer.
To prevent future tragedies like this one, the way police departments deal with mental health must change.
Police should undergo regular psychological evaluations and receive mental health support without fear of losing their jobs or their respect from peers. Police leaders must take responsibility for the culture of their departments by addressing the stigma of counseling in our profession by normalizing conversations about emotions, trauma, and healing. Peer support groups go a long way, but they are not enough. Just as we are regularly trained in self-defense, we must also be regularly trained and supported in self-care.
And officers who stand up against injustice must be protected. If you are a police officer who’s tired of the status quo, there is a place for you at the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). We elevate the voices of police and other law enforcement professionals who see the failures of our justice system and work to create communities that are safer and more just. With the help of hundreds of organizations across the political spectrum, we support real solutions that repair police-community relations, reduce incarceration, and end the War on Drugs.
To my fellow officers, retired and still in uniform, you are not alone. This time is ripe for transformation. We can and will grow from this and help build a better future for our country.
Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.)
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
National Suicide Prevention Hotline, available 24/7 in English and Spanish: 800–273–8255