Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released the following statements after their bipartisan legislation to support law enforcement officers seeking mental health services passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature.
The Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act will encourage the adoption of law enforcement peer counseling programs across the country and ensure that the information disclosed during peer support counseling sessions by federal law enforcement officers is kept confidential.
“Our law enforcement officers protect American communities every day, and we need to make sure we get them the mental health support they need and deserve,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This bipartisan legislation will provide officers in Nevada and across the country with quality and confidential mental health counseling services, helping save lives and reduce the stigma around seeking help. Now that it has passed the House, I urge the President to sign the bill into law as soon as possible.”
“Law enforcement officers across the country sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe and healthy, and they often endure challenging and traumatic situations in the process. Confidential peer counseling programs provide an important mental health outlet for these officers to share their experiences, decompress and receive guidance. This bill ensures officers have an opportunity to participate in peer counseling with the confidence that their privacy will be protected. I appreciate Sen. Cortez Masto’s leadership in this effort, and I look forward to President Biden promptly signing this important bill into law,” Senator Grassley said.
Modeled after Nevada’s confidentiality laws, the COPS Counseling Act will provide confidentiality to federal law enforcement officers who use peer counseling services, excepting admissions of criminal conduct or threats of serious physical harm. The bill will also encourage first responder agencies to adopt peer counseling programs by requiring the DOJ to make best practices publicly available on its website and to provide a list of training programs for individuals to become peer support mentors.
As the former top law enforcement official in Nevada, Senator Cortez Masto has been a leading advocate in the Senate for our police officers. Her bipartisan legislation to combat the crisis of law enforcement suicide was signed into law last year, and she teamed up with Senator Grassley to call for full funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program that is the leading source of criminal justice funding for state, local, and tribal governments. The American Rescue Plan she championed set aside $4 billion so that Nevada’s state and local governments could maintain essential services like police and first responders.