On Wednesday, July 10, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) bipartisan Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act, which restores grant funding for law enforcement support services and allows grant recipients to use funds to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for law enforcement officers. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is Sen. Hawley’s lead cosponsor on the legislation in the Senate, where it passed unanimously in May.
Sen. Hawley said, “I’m thrilled that Congress passed my bipartisan legislation to support our men and women in law enforcement. These heroes show up every day to protect and serve our communities, so it’s important that we show up for them.”
Sen. Whitehouse said, “Members of law enforcement routinely encounter danger and tragedy on the job. Our bipartisan STOIC Act is now well on its way to becoming law and helping police officers deal strongly with what they must bear to keep their communities safe.”
Co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Tillis (R-N.C.), Gardner (R-Colo.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cotton (R-Ark.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Scott (R-Fla.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Capito (R- W. Va.), Coons (D-Del.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Grassley (R-Iowa), McSally (R-Ariz.), Cramer (R-N.D.), Collins (R-Maine), and Hassan (D-N.H).
U.S. Representatives Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) introduced companion legislation in the House. The bill is now headed to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.
Suicide is the number one cause of death for police officers in the United States, but Congress has failed to fund grant programs that provide support services for police officers and their families. Current grant programs also do not allow for funds to be used for suicide prevention efforts, mental health screenings, or training to identify officers at risk. Senator Hawley’s legislation restores and expands grant funding for these law enforcement support services.
Congress has passed fewer than 35 laws this year. (Congress.gov, 7/10/19)
The bill has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement and mental health advocacy groups: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Sheriffs’ Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, National Fraternal Order of Police, Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department, National District Attorneys Association, and International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Watch a video of Sen. Hawley speaking to the Senate by visiting https://www.facebook.com/SenatorHawley/videos/1111909695671633/?v=1111909695671633