The victims include one retired member and three active members of the department. The LASD and the broader law enforcement community in California are grappling with the shock and grief of these losses.
The first three victims were discovered on Monday, with the initial death reported at approximately 10:30 a.m. in Valencia. The second and third deaths were reported at 12:53 p.m. in Lancaster and 5:40 p.m. in Stevenson Ranch, respectively. The fourth victim was found on Tuesday at around 7:30 a.m. in Pomona, as reported by KTLA.
L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna expressed his shock and sorrow in an emailed statement to the media. "We are stunned to learn of these deaths, and it has sent shockwaves 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.
Two of the victims from Monday were identified by the Los Angeles Times as 25-year career veteran Cmdr. Darren Harris, and retired Sgt. Greg Hovland. The identities of the other officers have not been officially disclosed by the LASD.
In his statement, Luna emphasized the importance of mental health support within the department. "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," Luna said. "I have the deepest concern for our employees’ well-being, and we are urgently exploring avenues to reduce work stress factors to support our employees’ work and personal lives."
Cristina Coria, a retired Santa Monica police officer, spoke to FOX 11 Los Angeles about the broader issue of depression and mental health struggles within law enforcement. "There are so many officers that I know that have talked about committing suicide that I never thought in a million years would think about it or talk about it," Coria said.
Coria highlighted the range of issues that officers grapple with, including identity struggles, financial difficulties, relationship problems, and addiction to pain medication or alcohol. "There are so many things going on, that our departments are not reaching out to them [struggling officers] enough," she added.
First responders often face a unique set of challenges, including job-related trauma, lack of public support, family or financial troubles, work-related injuries, and feelings of abandonment after receiving those injuries. The lack of financial compensation or support from superiors, forced medical retirement, and feelings of a lost identity after retiring also contribute to their struggles.
Laura Linder, the founder of the nonprofit Exclusively First Responders and mother-in-law to a former LASD officer who took his own life, pointed out the psychological toll of the job. "What they see on a daily basis, we cannot even imagine and they cannot unthink what they see," Linder said.
Coria lamented the tragic loss of the four officers. "It’s sad that these officers did not get the help that I’m sure they wanted and were looking for," she said.
The LASD does not believe the deaths are connected, according to KTLA. The department's Psychological Services Bureau and the Injury and Health Support Unit are providing support and resources to the victims’ families.
These tragic events come on the heels of the fatal shooting of Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer in Palmdale on Saturday, September 16, 2023, and the death of a LASD recruit over the summer. The department and the broader law enforcement community continue to grapple with these losses as they strive to support their members' mental health and well-being.