Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) applauded the Senate passage of two pieces of bipartisan legislation she introduced with Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to address the crisis of police suicide and improve mental health resources for law enforcement. Senator Cortez Masto and Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act will track law enforcement suicides and use the anonymous data collected to improve mental health intervention and decrease law enforcement suicides. The Senator’s Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act, introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will also help provide mental health support to law enforcement by encouraging the adoption of peer counseling programs, while protecting the privacy of federal officers who participate. The passage of these two bills also coincides with this year’s Police Week.
“Our law enforcement officers are on the frontlines every day protecting Nevada’s communities, and the stressors they face have only been compounded by the heroic work they are doing to keep Nevadans safe during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation will help us better understand the unique mental health needs of our first responders and provide much-needed guidance, resources and support for the officers who risk their health and safety to serve us. I’m grateful for my colleagues Senator Grassley and Senator Hawley for working with me on these important issues and their efforts to pass these two critical bills. I’ll continue to fight to ensure the law enforcement community can get the quality care they need, without unnecessary burdens or fear of stigma.”
“Now more than ever, it is essential that we get our law enforcement officers the support they deserve as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” said Senator Hawley. “With better data collection on law enforcement suicides, we can more effectively intervene where help is needed and stop these tragedies before they occur. I’m proud to have led this bill with Senator Cortez Masto in the Senate and to see it pass the chamber during National Police Week, and I hope it will soon become law.”
“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,” said Senator Grassley.
The Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act requires the FBI to open a voluntary data collection program to track suicides and attempted suicides within local, tribal, state and federal law enforcement. Information collected and maintained by the FBI will not include any personally identifiable information. This bill also directs the FBI Director to submit an annual report on the data to Congress and publish the report on the FBI website. This program would serve as the principal data collection tool on suicides and attempted suicides within law enforcement across the country. By providing accurate and detailed information on these suicides and attempted suicides, more effective prevention programs could be implemented to save lives. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and the full text of the bill is here.
Modeled after Nevada’s confidentiality laws, the COPS Counseling Act would 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 would also encourage first responder agencies to adopt peer counseling programs by requiring the DOJ to make best practices publicly available on their website and to provide a list of training programs for individuals to become peer support mentors. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and the full text of the bill is available here.