Brooks, Demings, Collins, Pascrell, Reichert Introduce Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017
Washington, D.C. - Today, Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN), Val Demings (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced H.R. 2228, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, which would help agencies create or improve mental health services for law enforcement officers.
“Members of our law enforcement put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities every day,” said Brooks. “Our officers deal with the unthinkable and daily face situations that can be hard to process and impossible to forget. They need the training and resources to protect their own emotional and mental wellbeing in these situations. This bill provides law enforcement officers with the skills to handle the stress and anxiety associated with their job as well as the resources to address serious mental health challenges that may arise like depression and PTSD. I am proud to support our law enforcement agencies, mental health providers and most importantly, our men and women in blue.”
"Our law enforcement officers are called to some of the most horrific situations and step into harm's way to protect of us every day," said Demings. "As Chief of Police, I made it a priority to talk to my police officers, to understand and know what they were dealing with on the streets. We should do what we can to take care of them, so they are always prepared to take care of us."
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 would direct the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop resources to equip local law enforcement agencies to address mental health challenges faced by officers. The bill would also make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.
"Every hour, the brave men and women of our law enforcement community enter into stressful, dangerous situations on behalf of their neighbors,” said Collins. “Like our service members, police officers deserve an array of support to meet their unique wellness needs. As the son of a Georgia State Trooper, I’m encouraged that, through the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Veterans Affairs will help our law enforcement communities better serve the officers who protect us every day."
“The brave men and women in law enforcement put themselves in difficult, dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening situations every day” said Pascrell. “While I have fought for new physical equipment and advanced technology to protect them when on duty, we must ensure law enforcement has the resources, support and training to address mental health issues as well. That is why I am proud to be an original sponsor of this bipartisan effort to bolster the connections between local mental health professionals and law enforcement as a way to educate officers and supervisors about the importance of mental health issues.”
“The traumas faced by members of law enforcement do not leave them when they go home at the end of the day,” said Reichert. “During my time in the Sheriff’s Office I lost dear friends and witnessed tragedies that are forever seared into my memory. Just like our military members who protect us abroad, our law enforcement officers who protect us here at home need and deserve access to critical mental health and wellness services. I am proud to support a bipartisan bill that gathers information that will help us provide much needed mental health care to those who sacrifice so much on our behalf.”
This legislation is supported by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO), the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
"Our officers wear protective clothing and other equipment to keep themselves safe from physical harm, but these officers also face challenges to their mental health and well-being. Unlike many other professions, sometimes you can't leave the job at the office,” said Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 is the companion bill to S.876, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Todd Young (R-IN) earlier this month. Additional original co-sponsors of S. 876 include Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chris Coons (D-DE).