Congresswoman Val Demings and Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks, introduced the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2228), which would help agencies create or improve mental health services for law enforcement officers.
“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 bipartisan 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.
“Members of our law enforcement put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities every day,” Brooks said. “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.”
This legislation is supported by the 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 also co-sponsored by Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Dave Reichert (R-WA). It is the companion bill to S.876, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Joe Donnelly (D-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).