March 09, 2020

Cortez Masto Urges Passage of Legislation to Help Reduce Law Enforcement Suicides

Washington, D.C. – Since U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) invited Reno Police Chief Jason Soto to attend the President’s State of the Union Address on February 4th to highlight the importance of addressing the crisis of police suicide, at least 15 law enforcement officers across the country have died by suicide. In light of this ongoing tragedy, Senator Cortez Masto called for the passage of her bipartisan Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act. This bill would require the FBI to collect voluntary, anonymous data from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on police suicides and attempted suicides. This valuable data could then be used to inform policy solutions that will prioritize mental health intervention and decrease law enforcement suicides.

“America’s law enforcement officers bravely face danger and trauma every day as they serve our communities. My legislation will provide the necessary data to understand the depth and scope of the mental health issues facing law enforcement in Nevada and throughout the nation. These officers deserve our support and I will keep fighting to provide resources and programs to protect our law enforcement officers’ mental health and wellness. This bipartisan legislation should see immediate action in the United States Senate without delay.”

BACKGROUND:

Last year was the fourth straight year in which police suicides outnumbered line-of-duty deaths. Law enforcement agencies across the country lost at least 228 officers to suicide in 2019. Currently, there is no comprehensive government effort to track suicides and attempted suicides in law enforcement like there is for line-of-duty deaths.

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.

Participating law enforcement agencies will report information on suicides within their agency to the FBI, including:

  • Circumstances and events that occurred before each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Location of each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Demographic information of each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide;
  • Occupational category for each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide; and
  • Method used in each suicide or attempted suicide.

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.

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