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The posters are hung throughout police headquarters, beside cheerful announcements of retirements and reminders of blood drives.
"Cops rid the streets of murderers, drug dealers, thieves, and all too often themselves," the posters read. "If you're a cop in need of help, call the N.Y.P.D. Early Intervention Hotline."
Counseling within the Police Department is offered as a voluntary option for troubled officers and, in some cases, is mandatory, said Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman. But counseling remains among the most underused tools in a police officer's arsenal, the result of an age-old stigma within the department against psychiatry in general.
Lt. Michael W. Pigott, who killed himself on Thursday morning after having ordered the fatal Taser shooting of a man on a ledge Sept. 24, was required to receive counseling within the Police Department, said Philip E. Karasyk, a lawyer for the Lieutenants Benevolent Association. He did so, and took some time off work last week, returning to one single shift at Fleet Services, where the department's vehicles are serviced, he said.
"He had been transferred out of his unit. That's always very disconcerting to these guys," Mr. Karasyk said, especially in a case compounded by heavy media coverage. "No one takes into consideration the human being behind the cop."
Other officers who were deemed to have made mistakes in the past dealt with their pain - be it anger or humiliation or fear of repercussions - in different ways.
Lt. Gary Napoli, 50, was the commanding officer of the team of officers who shot and killed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets in Queens in 2006. While he was not among the three officers charged, and later acquitted, in the shooting, he was removed from his regular duty and suspended. In an interview on Thursday, he said he did not visit police counselors, although he credited the department for offering their services.
"I've developed many friendships on the job in 25 years. I received hundreds of phone calls in support," he said. "The department was there for myself and my family and my kids. My superiors, my peers and my subordinates, they all were supportive of me."
Likewise, Detective Gescard F. Isnora, one of the detectives acquitted in the shooting, did not visit counselors, said his lawyer, Anthony L. Ricco. "Jesse is a member of a very small but strong church, and they surrounded him with love and encouragement in the case," Mr. Ricco said.
Kenneth Boss, one of the officers involved in the shooting death nine years ago of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, spoke with bitterness toward the department counseling. He said he internalized his grief over Mr. Diallo's death and was so overwhelmed by the sharp turn his own life had taken, and the abandonment that he felt from the department, that he had suicidal thoughts at times.
"That mandatory counseling, it's a mandatory visit. They don't counsel you," said Officer Boss, who remains on modified duty at Floyd Bennett Field.
"Never once in nine years did someone call to see if I was standing on a bridge or holding a gun to my head," he said.
Lt. Anthony Garvey, the former president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, said the department takes counseling seriously.
"The department, I have to say, has made a conscientious effort to reduce suicides," he said. "It's not as though they take a nonchalant attitude. But at the end of the day, individuals are going to act."
Asked about the counseling given to Lieutenant Pigott and Officer Nicholas Marchesona, who fired the Taser, a law enforcement official said, "They received appropriate counseling."
Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, said that the Police Department has on staff psychologists who sometimes help run support or discussion groups. The department also uses consulting psychiatrists he said, and police officers and other department staff members can be referred to outside counselors, too.
He said there were also well-known and well-advertised alternatives to departmental counseling.
After an increase in police suicides - 23 cases in 1994 and 1995 combined - an independent, nonprofit counseling service was created, called Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, said Bill Genet, the founder and director. Since then, there has been an average of five to seven suicides a year, he said.
The office receives 800 calls a year from officers seeking an alternative to department counseling, he said.
"If the perception is if they don't trust that system, it's like the military," he said. "If they give any indication there's anything bothering them about what just happened, they get pulled out of their unit."
He said he believes his office directly prevents about six suicides a year. "That's people who come to us and directly tell us they have a plan" to kill themselves, "or they write a letter and say they had a gun to their head and they called us," Mr. Genet said.
Mr. Genet said the office's policy is to not disclose information about any officer who has contacted his office, but of Lieutenant Pigott, he added: "I feel very assured that had he called us, we could have felt secure in preventing this tragedy. But he didn't call."
Officers on the street on Thursday, who are not allowed under department policy to be quoted by name, spoke on the condition of anonymity, and said there is a general negative impression of visiting the department counseling after an officer has been removed from his or her regular assignment because of a mistake on the job.
"They tell you counseling is available, so that way the department can say, 'we told them to go,' but usually nobody goes," said an officer on the Upper East Side with nine years on the job. "They don't want to be seen as if they have mental problems. Management may not treat you the same."
An officer posted in Midtown said there are signs offering counseling throughout his precinct house. "Some guys don't like to go through the department, and the union has to notify the city if you go through them. It derails your career. Once you are being investigated, it is a nightmare."
Martin Espinoza and Jennifer Mascia contributed reporting.
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