House Unanimously Passes Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2228, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, which would help agencies create and improve mental health services for law enforcement officers. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) was an original co-sponsor, along with U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Val Demings (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), and Dave Reichert (R-WA). Pascrell and Reichert serve as chairs of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus.
“We all know the brave men and women in law enforcement put themselves in difficult, dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening situations every day,” said Rep. Pascrell. “It is absolutely critical that we provide our law enforcement officers with all the resources they need to effectively do their job to keep our communities safe. We must work to decrease the stress on law enforcement officers, which can have a big impact on officers’ physical and mental well-being. I am pleased that the House passed our bipartisan bill to ensure officer mental wellness is a priority from the day of hire to the day they retire.”
“Our police officers face a culture of silence when it comes to mental health challenges, and they need better access to mental health services to help them cope with unforgettable situations,” said Rep. Brooks. “In the Fifth District, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen’s daughter, also a police officer, tried to take her own life because she was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after responding to a case involving the murder of a mother and her 4-year-old son. Nielsen’s daughter did not have access to services that could help her process and cope with the horrific situation she faced that day. The passage of the Law Enforcement Mental Wellness Act through the House of Representatives today ensures that we are one step closer to supporting the men and women in law enforcement with the resources they need to stay healthy while selflessly serving our communities and keeping us safe.”
“As a former Chief of Police, with 27 years in law enforcement, I know all too well that our law enforcement officers respond to some of the most horrific scenes and situations without regard to their own personal safety,” said Rep. Demings. “This important piece of legislation would ensure that agencies are better equipped and officers have the resources needed to more effectively deal with the stress and mental health challenges associated with the job.”
“As the son of a Georgia State Trooper, I never forget that members of the law enforcement community voluntarily enter dangerous, stressful situations each day, and they do this for the sake of their neighbors,” said Rep. Collins. “It’s my privilege to join the House in supporting the unique wellness needs of these men and women. They continue to invest in making our communities safer, and the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act invests in providing practical resources to support officers in their work.”
“Having served in law enforcement for 33 years, I know first-hand the importance of providing critical mental health and wellness services for our first responders,” said Rep. Reichert. “Our nation’s law enforcement face significant trauma on a regular basis as they dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe. We have seen how these services help our military members, and now it is time that we provide the same help for those who serve us here at home. I am proud that the House of Representatives passed this essential bipartisan legislation today to bring much needed health care to those who put their lives on the line each day for our safety.”
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.
This legislation is supported by 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.