Some state legislators want to require every law enforcement officer in Oregon to meet with a mental health professional at least once every two years.
Backers present Senate Bill 1531 as a common-sense way to help police officers cope with the stress of their jobs and the sometimes subconscious trauma they may experience. Under the bill, the mandated meetings with a psychiatrist or a counselor would not be considered formal psychological "evaluations" and therefore couldn't cause officers to lose their jobs or be suspended, reports the Register Guard.
"The stress of law enforcement is obvious to everyone," said Sen. Lew Frederick, a Portland Democrat and chief backer of the bill. "They often see people on their worst days. They see some of the most horrific episodes in our society. They are affected by those incidents."
The bill is sponsored by 11 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican.
At an initial hearing on Tuesday, law enforcement representatives made it clear that they vigorously oppose the bill.
SB 1531 "is so broad that it mandates participation in meetings with mental health care professionals by officers who may have no need, who may object to participation or who may not cooperate enough to benefit," Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris said.
Ferraris added that the bill as written would provide no money to local departments, even though the required meetings for 5,500 officers across the state most likely would be expensive. If a counseling session costs $200, for example, the cost for all of the officers over a two-year period would be $1.1 million.