April 6, 2017

Donnelly, Young Lead Bipartisan Group of Senators in Introducing Legislation to Support Law Enforcement Mental Health

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young introduced bipartisan legislation today that would support mental health services for law enforcement officers. The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act is supported by a number of law enforcement organizations and has been cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

Donnelly said, “Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect and serve communities in Indiana and across the country every day, and sometimes it means they experience challenging or even horrific situations. This legislation would provide tools for law enforcement agencies to help support the mental health and wellness of these brave men and women. I urge the Senate to act quickly to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation.”

Young said, “Our men and women in blue put their lives on the line each day to ensure the safety and security of our families and community. But the stress of constant high pressure situations can take its toll. We need to make sure they are receiving the care they need too. This legislation works with the relevant federal agencies, mental health providers and broader law enforcement community to do just that. When our police force is healthy and strong, our communities are healthy and strong too.”

Blunt, co-founder of the Senate’s Law Enforcement Caucus, said, “Law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. The stress and fatigue they face in the line of duty can take a heavy toll, leading to behavioral health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This bill will help law enforcement agencies better understand and address the behavioral health needs of their officers, and I’m proud to support it.”

Coons, co-founder of the Senate’s Law Enforcement Caucus, said, “The women and men of law enforcement face stressful situations and risk their lives to keep us safe every day. We must ensure that, when necessary, our law enforcement community has access to top-notch mental health and wellness resources. I am proud to join with my colleagues on this bipartisan bill and hopeful that Congress will act swiftly to expand access to these important programs.”

The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act would help law enforcement agencies establish or enhance mental health care services for their officers. The legislation would make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop resources for mental health providers based on the specific mental health challenges faced by law enforcement, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.

The legislation has the support of the 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.

Bryan Roach, Chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said, “The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is excited to support legislation to assist Law Enforcement Wellness and Mental Health.The value of our officers’ mental health and wellness to the individual officer, the Department and the citizens they serve is great.We strive to provide the best opportunities to succeed in our noble profession, and appreciate effortslike this Bill.”

Rick Snyder, President Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86, said, “For many years police officers have suffered in silence due to both the long term repeated exposure to traumatic situations and acute events. This bill is an important step in addressing the mental health and wellness of law enforcement officers throughout our nation. The law enforcement officers of our local communities, states and our country are too important for our society to turn away from the emotional impacts officers confront daily during their careers of selfless sacrifice. We are pleased by the bipartisan leadership from Senator Donnelly and Senator Young on this nonpartisan issue.”

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, “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.The FOP has been a leader on mental fitness for law enforcement officers and we have found real partners in Senators Donnelly and Young who have crafted a bill to help identify how we can provide better support for the men and women behind the badge.We are proud to support the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and look forward to working with both Senators to get this bill to the President’s desk.”

Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said, “State and local law enforcement officers are our nation’s first responders. They respond to our country’s greatest tragedies as well as violent crimes that unfortunately occur more frequently in our communities. They have seen and experienced horrors that they cannot forget, yet they still put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities. It is time that we recognize the stress and strain of the job and give officers the resources they need to address their emotional and mental wellbeing, which is why the National Association of Police Organizations is proud to support the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act. This legislation is an important first step in ensuring officers across the country have access to the best mental health services available and feel supported in using those services. We thank Senator Donnelly and Senator Young for their support of the law enforcement community and their leadership on this important issue.”

Michael Bouchard, Oakland County Michigan Sheriff and Vice President of Government Affairs for the Major County Sheriffs of America, said, “Mental health issues are increasingly important in society and in particular professions like law enforcement, the strain on individual well-being is acutely felt. Drawing more attention to this and creating best practices and programs to help those in our profession deal with this critical issue is long overdue. We greatly appreciate the leadership shown by Senators Donnelly and Young in this effort.”

Ed Mullins, President of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the NYPD, said, “When it matters most out on the street, police officers know exactly what it means when they hear ‘I’ve got your back.’ But when it comes to coping with the stress and strain of the job, an officer’s backup isn’t always so clear.With the sudden recent increase in law enforcement suicides, we are grateful for the leadership of Senators Donnelly and Young to ensure that each police officer in America has access to the mental health and wellness resources they need.”

Nate Catura, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said, “Our members unselfishly serve the public from tribal reservations, to parks and forests, to towns and villages, to major cities and even to far flung war zones throughout the word. Each location has unique stressors and dangers that leave indelible scars on our agents and officers. Your Instructing the Justice Department to study the successful techniques employed by the Department of Defense to mitigate the post-traumatic stress encountered by our military is commendable. Proactively engaging our departments to recognize and address these issues will most assuredly result in preventing the loss of our most valuable heroes!”