New York Police Department deputy chief officer days away from retirement was found dead with a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday evening, according to reports.

Steven Silks, who was off duty, was reportedly found in an unmarked patrol car by a passer-by in the Forest Hill area of Queens.

The 62-year-old had worked for the NYPD for 38 years and was due to retire, a friend told NBC New York.

Mr Silks did not have children and his sister was notified of his death, the report said.

After he was found with the suspected gunshot wound to his head, he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The death of the officer comes amid growing recognition of suicide among US police officers. 2018 was the third year in a row in which more police officers died from suicide than in the line of duty. The numbers are also higher than suicide rates in the civilian population.

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