A bill that would provide resources to improve the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers passed a house committee last week, a major step on its way to enactment.
H.R. 2228, the “Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act,” directs the U.S. Attorney General to identify existing mental health and wellness programs, especially those administered by the U.S. Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, and then develop model policies which could be adopted by state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. It also authorizes the establishment of pilot peer mentoring programs using Federal grants. The legislation was drafted with the assistance of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
“We helped develop this legislation late last Congress and it passed the Senate as S. 867 in May,” FOP President Chuck Canterbury said. “We’re very pleased to have worked with Chairman (Bob) Goodlatte and Ranking Member (John) Conyers to move this bill through Committee in an effort to improve the mental health and wellness of our nation’s police officers.
“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,” Canterbury said. “The FOP has been a leader on mental wellness for law enforcement officers and we believe 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 getting this bill to the President’s desk.”
The bill is sponsored by Representatives Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) and Valdez V. Demings (D-FL). Representatives Douglas A Collins (R-GA), William J. Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and David G. Reichert (R-WA) are original cosponsors.