Seattle, WA – Nashua Police Department (NPD) Captain Jonathan “Jon” Lehto died by suicide while he was visiting his family in Seattle on Sept. 9, according to his department.
The 47-year-old captain grew up in the Nashua, New Hampshire community that he later spent two decades serving, Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan said in a press release on Sept. 12.
“From early on, Jon wanted to be a police officer,” Chief Carignan said.
But before he joined NPD, Capt. Lehto first earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor Degrees, and was later admitted to the New Hampshire Bar Association.
He was hired by the NPD in 1999, and initially served several years in the Patrol Division.
Capt. Lehto was later transferred to the department’s Detective Bureau, “where he spent much of his time handling juvenile related matters, sexual assault investigations, and other complex cases,” Chief Carignan wrote.
The chief praised Capt. Lehto’s “leadership, knowledge, and demeanor,” and described him as a “skillful and well-regarded patrol supervisor and detective supervisor.”
The veteran officer was later transferred to NPD’s Legal Bureau, where he worked as a police prosecutor.
“Jon was considered a colleague by Judges, public defenders, and other attorneys,” Chief Carignan said. “Jon’s legal expertise allowed him to provide valuable guidance to his fellow officers as well as the [NPD’s] Executive Office.”
Capt. Lehto was commander of the department’s Detective Bureau at the time of his death, the chief said.
He was also a member of the SWAT team, and at one point oversaw the agency’s Crime Scene Unit.
Capt. Lehto was the recipient of numerous letters of appreciation from local citizens and organizations, and also received a slew of commendations during his 20 years of “unblemished” service, according to the chief.
“We at the Nashua Police Department were stunned to learn Jon died by suicide,” Chief Carignan wrote in the release. “Jon ended his life early and we don’t know why. We are all left with questions which may never be answered.”
Capt. Lehto leaves behind his wife, his family, and many friends.
“With the support of Jon’s family, we want to share the circumstances of his death,” the chief continued. “Suicide is a national issue which does not exclude the first responder community. Only recently has it become more openly acknowledged and discussed.”
He noted that the highly-decorated captain’s death was proof that “we must deal with this truth…we are not immune to this reality.”
“The Nashua Police Department and Jon’s family acknowledge that suicide amongst law enforcement and other first responders is an epidemic,” Chief Carignan wrote. “Jon spent his career helping people. We are hopeful that by not remaining silent about Jon’s death by suicide, we can honor who he truly was and encourage others to reach out for help.”
Capt. Lehto’s visitation was held on Tuesday, according to his obituary.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Nashua Police Department Captain Jonathan “Jon” Lehto, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.