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Police Officer Takes Own Life; 12th in New York City This Year

December 26, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Officer Timothy Torres was planning for the future, talking to police counselors about becoming a homicide detective like his father.

Then, just before dawn Christmas morning, he took a break from walking his beat, stopped into a Times Square restaurant for a bite to eat - and shot himself in front of two stunned colleagues.

Torres, 26, was the 12th New York City officer to commit suicide this year, a post-Depression record.

″When 12 guys kill themselves, something’s not working,″ said Frank Tuscano, a police union board member and founder of Cop Care Inc., a voluntary, nonprofit support group for troubled officers. ″These guys are afraid of saying, ‘I need help,’ because then you’re weak.″

Some officers said Torres’ death underscored the need for a system outside the department to help police officers deal with job pressures and domestic problems.

Torres was spending his first Christmas since divorcing his wife six months ago and had been ″emotionally upset″ recently, said spokesman Sgt. James Coleman.

But Lt. James Robert, who met with Torres on Thursday to discuss the officer’s career plans, said he saw nothing then that seemed reason for concern.

″He was fine,″ Robert said. ″He was going to take some college courses. He was planning it all out. ... He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.″

The last assignment Torres had before killing himself was to talk an emotionally disturbed man into going to a hospital to get help.

Afterward, he took a break, joined by officers Tyler Ward and Michael Sciabba.

With Sciabba standing nearby, Torres finished his meal, ″went back to a rear booth to talk to Ward, sat down, and then shot himself,″ Coleman said.

Torres, a member of the department for 2 1/2 years, was assigned to Midtown South, a precinct that bills itself as the ″world’s busiest,″ covering Times Square and the Garment District.

Recently he had volunteered to work the midnight shift, walking a beat that included streets lined with porno houses, saloons and cut-rate retail stores.

At the Midtown South station house, an American flag dangled at half-staff and a Christmas tree blinked forlornly in the lobby. Officers in uniform and civilian clothes came and went, brushing past reporters without speaking.

Among the visitors was Torres’s father, Cesar Torres, a retired homicide detective.

″It is very difficult thing to accept something like this in the middle of such a beautiful season,″ Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. ″But unfortunately sometimes during the holiday season these pressures get even greater and greater for some people.″

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