Pascrell Police Training Bill Passes House
As Washington marks National Police Week, vital change heads to Senate
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today hailed passage in the House of his legislation, the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act (H.R. 2992) during National Police Week. The legislation will create enhanced training to help law enforcement and first responders better recognize and treat people suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“It is essential that we better prepare our first responders to identify symptoms of TBI and PTSD so they can properly assist individuals who are suffering from them,” said Rep. Pascrell, who leads both the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus. “My bill will help our first responders as well as those dealing with the every-day symptoms of TBI, PTSD, and other trauma-related ailments. I’m grateful that our colleagues have advanced my bill through the chamber and I look forward to working towards its final passage so we can get it signed into law by President Biden this year.”
Rep. Pascrell introduced the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act last year with Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL-04), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), and Val Demings (D-FL-10).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 3.2 million and 5.3 million people live with a TBI-related disability in the United States. About 8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives and about 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year.
Despite the prevalence of TBI and PTSD, many people cannot recognize and identify the symptoms. As a result, many law enforcement and first responders struggle with interacting with individuals suffering from these conditions. Many of the symptoms of TBI and PTSD, such as confusion, inability to follow directions, and impaired thinking or memory, can be misinterpreted or mistaken for intoxication. Additionally, other symptoms like agitation or irritability can raise safety issues for the individual with law enforcement and first responders.
Developing and implementing training programs that provide information on recognizing the signs and symptoms of TBI and PTSD can help improve emergency response, public and first responder safety, and interactions between first responders and individuals with these conditions. Further, by better understanding the prevalence of TBI and PTSD among our nations' law enforcement officers and first responders, we can take an essential step in promoting officer health and wellness.
“This legislation would direct the Attorney General to develop crisis intervention training tools for use by law enforcement and other public safety officers when interacting with community members who have TBI, another form of acquired brain injury, or PTSD. The training tools would be instrumental in helping officers interact with those who suffer from these injuries. Additionally, the training curriculum will not only better equip officers to ensure their own safety, but it will enhance their ability to serve and protect their communities,” said Patrick Yoes, National President, Fraternal Order of Police.
“Given the challenges of the last few years, MCCA members to prioritize ensuring the mental health of both the community and law enforcement officers. The TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act will advance this goal by promoting officer health and wellness and providing officers with tools and training to help individuals in crisis. The MCCA continue thanks Reps. Pascrell, Bacon, Demings, and Rutherford for their continued leadership, and the entire House of Representatives for passing the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act today,” said Jeri Williams, Chief, Phoenix Police Department and President, Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Law enforcement officers are on the front lines in responding to and intervening in mental and behavioral health crises, including individuals affected by traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. With the House passage of the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act today, Congress is on its way to providing much-needed additional training opportunities for law enforcement to support improved responses and outcomes to interactions between law enforcement officers and persons affected by TBI and PTSD. This legislation also recognizes that law enforcement and first responders are among those in our communities who suffer from these afflictions and requires the CDC to do a study on the prevalence of TBI and PTSD in the profession. We thank Congressman Pascrell for championing this important legislation and we look forward to seeing it enacted into law,” said Mick McHale, President, National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).
“AFSCME applauds the House for passing the Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Law Enforcement Training Act. Every day, first responders are called to react to thousands of mental health emergencies, a trend that has only increased as cases of mental illness have skyrocketed over the past two years. This bill from Rep. Pascrell will work to expand first responders’ toolkits, so they can properly and safely address mental health emergencies. It will make our communities safer, stronger and, most importantly, it will save lives,” said Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
"We applaud the passage of the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act by the US House of Representatives. We sincerely thank Representatives Pascrell, Bacon, Demings, and Rutherford for their leadership in introducing this important legislation. Recognizing possible signs and symptoms of brain injury in individuals encountered by law enforcement and training them on the simple supports needed to engage with those affected by brain injury can reduce escalation and harm. It also empowers law enforcement to do their jobs successfully and, when appropriate, refer individuals to services. We appreciate the House's focus on this significant legislation to provide Crisis Intervention Training and look forward to working with the Senate and Administration to progress this effort,” said Rebeccah Wolfkiel, Executive Director, National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA).
The TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act is supported by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA); Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA); Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA); National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO); National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC); National Sheriffs Association (NSA); Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD (SBA); National District Attorneys Association (NDAA); National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA); Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA); and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
First proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National Police Week has grown to a series of events that attracts thousands of law enforcement officers to our Nation's Capital each year to honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Rep. Pascrell spoke on the floor in favor of his legislation. His prepared comments are provided below.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Floor Statement in favor of the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act
Mister Speaker, this pandemic has been a grave hardship for our first responders. Men and women in blue have risked their lives every day. Last year was the deadliest ever for law enforcement.
During National Police Week, we honor these heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They protect us and we must have their backs.
I have been Co-Chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus for some time. I know our cops must have the training, resources, and personnel they need to keep our communities safe.
My bipartisan Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Law Enforcement Training Act is a vital step. It will provide crisis intervention training grants. These federal funds will help officers handle difficult interactions with those suffering from TBI or PTSD.
I founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001. For over 20 years, we have worked to draw attention to the struggle of millions of Americans living with long-term disabilities caused by traumatic brain injury.
Many common symptoms of TBI or PTSD, like confusion or impaired memory, are often mistaken for intoxication. Other symptoms including agitation can unnecessarily escalate interactions.
Ensuring officers can quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of TBI and PTSD will improve both public safety and the safety of our first responders.
Importantly, my bill would also direct the CDC to study the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among our nation’s first responders. This is a critical step to ensuring departments maintain robust concussion protocols that promote officer health and wellness.
President Biden tasked us during the State of the Union to “fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”
I agree. We must fully equip officers to deescalate mental health crises and provide far more assistance to help officers dealing with trauma-related ailments. My bill we are passing today does just that.
I’d like to thank Chairman Nadler and Chairman Pallone and their dedicated staff for their diligent work to bring the TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act to the floor. I also want to thank Representatives Demings, Rutherford, and Bacon for co-leading this bipartisan effort.
Finally I want to thank our law enforcement and TBI community stakeholders who helped us craft and advance this important policy.
These past years have been difficult for our communities and especially for our men and women in uniform.
The House stands with them during Police Week 2022.
Thank you, and I yield back.