Police are mourning the loss of a young officer who took his own life, following the death of 23-year-old Plumsted Police Department Patrolman Joseph Engrassia.
Engrassia, was hired by the police force December 3, 2015 and had been a member of the Patrol Division.
“Police suicides are clearly a crisis,” according to Badge of Life, a charity with the mission of lessening the impacts of both stress and trauma upon police officers and retirees. “Over the years, law enforcement has gathered some of the worst misinformation imaginable about them.”
In 2016, 108 officers took their own life. There was a significant drop in suicides since 2009, when law enforcement suicides were at their high with 143 deaths.
More police die of suicide than are killed by gunfire and traffic accidents combined, the 2016 study showed 108 officers died of suicide compared to 97 who died of traffic accidents and gunfire combined. A new police suicide study is in progress for 2017.
The Plumsted Township Police Department announced that Engrassia died on May 6.
Engrassia, who joined the Plumsted Township Police Department on December 3, 2015, was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his home, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Published reports said Engrassia was the stepbrother of Jason Marles, an Ocean Gate police officer who was killed by a drunk driver in a fiery crash on the Garden State Parkway on Thanksgiving in 2010.
Marles, 32 at the time of his death, left behind an ex-wife, two children, and extended family.
Erick Uzcategui, a repeat drunken driver who killed Marles, was sentenced to eight years in prison for his vehicular homicide and won’t be eligible for parole until April 9, 2021.
Engrassia started his career, as many shore police hopefuls do, as a class II seasonal officer in 2014.
“Joey was a friend to many and a brother to all of us at the department,” said the Seaside Heights Police Department. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Engrassia family, his friends and co-workers during this difficult time.”
“Joe was highly respected within our department and was someone we all could depend on. Joe was more than a coworker to us here, he was a friend. We are devastated and saddened by this and our thoughts and prayers are with Joe’s family and friends during this difficult time,” said a Plumsted Police Department statement hat declined “further comment on this out of respect for Joe’s family and loved ones.”
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