Law Enforcement and Suicide Prevention Advocates Applaud Senator Hawley’s Police Suicide Prevention Legislation

Monday, April 08, 2019

Less than a week after introduction, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s “Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019” has received an outpouring of support from the law enforcement and suicide prevention communities. The bill restores expired grant funding for law enforcement family-support services. The bill also allows grant recipients to use funds to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for law enforcement officers.

Today the Major County Sheriffs of America, The National Association of Police Organizations, The National District Attorneys Association, National Sheriffs’ Association and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention released statements in support of the legislation:

“Law enforcement officials are all too familiar with calls for service that repeatedly bring them into contact with people whose mental illnesses are not being adequately addressed and while mental health issues are increasingly important in society, in professions like law enforcement, the strain on families and individual well-being is acutely felt. Drawing more attention to this issue and expanding programs to help those in our profession deal with stress and suicide is long overdue. On behalf of the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) we are proud to support this bipartisan bill and we applaud Senators Hawley and Whitehouse for their support of our profession and our families.”

–Sheriff Grady Judd (Polk County, Fla.), President, Major County Sheriffs of America

“State and local law enforcement officers are our nation’s first responders. They respond to our country’s greatest tragedies as well as violent and abhorrent crimes that unfortunately occur with some frequency in our neighborhoods. They have seen and experienced horrors that they cannot forget, yet they still put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities. The stresses and strains of the job not only affect officers’ mental and physical wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of their family life. The STOIC Act recognizes the stresses of the job and will help give officers and their families the support and resources they need to address their emotional and mental wellbeing. NAPO thanks Senators Hawley and Whitehouse for their support and leadership on this important issue.”

–Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations

“NDAA thanks Senator Hawley and Senator Whitehouse for prioritizing the well-being of law enforcement officers. All too often, the national discussion surrounding mental health does not include the hard working men and women protecting our communities. The STOIC Act takes important steps to expand family-support grants to assist law enforcement officers suffering from mental health concerns and provides needed funds to guarantee these programs are effective. The nation’s prosecutors look forward to working alongside Congress to ensure this bipartisan legislation becomes law.”

–Jonathan Blodgett, District Attorney for Essex County, Mass., President, National District Attorneys Association

“Sadly we have seen the rise in suicides in our law enforcement profession and we must provide more assistance to our personnel who are struggling with mental health issues. This bill will provide valuable resources to those who are the thin blue line in keeping our communities safe.”

–Jonathan Thompson, Executive Director, National Sheriffs’ Association

“The STOIC Act will provide a greater scope of mental health resources and more support for law enforcement officers and their families. AFSP applauds the inclusion of suicide prevention programs and the increase of funding for much needed mental health resources. This legislation is a strong step towards prioritization of law enforcement mental health and suicide prevention.”

–John H. Madigan, Jr., Senior Vice President, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is the lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan “Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019.”  Additional co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Tillis (R-N.C.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cotton (R-Ark.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Scott (R-Fla.).