NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The sister of an NYPD officer who took his own life earlier this month is making another emotional plea for help.
She says she asked for help from the department, but wasn’t taken seriously. On Friday she took her concerns directly to the NYPD’s highest officials.
As Eileen Echeverria faces unbearable grief, she’s also mustering the courage to give top cops a piece of her mind.
“The blood is on their hands. Not just of my brother, but several other officers and I will fight for change,” Echeverria said in front of One Police Plaza.
WEB EXTRA – See Eileen Echeverria’s entire emotional address here:
She met with high ranking officers just days after her brother Robert became the seventh NYPD officer since June to take his own life – the ninth this year.
“It is a broken system. Top brass is not backing NYPD. They need help… They should be there for their officers at all times, but they’re not.”
Echeverria is now demanding major improvements to prevent yet another tragedy, calling for regular therapy and mental health check-ins at each precinct.
She says officers currently have nowhere to turn. Echeverria told CBS2 she was promised new programs like peer support, plus clinicians and psychiatric evaluations.
“What do you expect them to do? Of course they’re falling apart,” the heartbroken sister said.
Echeverria says she alerted Internal Affairs about her 56-year-old brother’s mental health six times in the last decade – most recently in June.
In an email, she wrote he was suicidal and she was concerned about his guns.
The department said it would investigate, but the 25 year veteran of the force was quickly cleared and his weapons returned in just two days.
“I’ve tried everything within my power to raise awareness about how our men in blue are being treated…
This is our reality, you can’t sweep that under the rug. You can’t unbreak my mother’s heart, you can’t unbreak his children’s heart and you can’t unbreak mine.”
CBS2 asked the NYPD for more specifics on Friday’s meeting and what exactly the new programs are that the officers were referring to.
The NYPD would only say Echeverria’s case is under investigation.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill has called the spike in suicides a “mental health crisis” and recently launching a task force aimed at preventing officer suicides – sending peer support teams out to precincts.