Senator Working to Increase Mental Health Support for First Responders

Posted on May 12, 2022

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Brown’s Bipartisan Legislation Would Establish Programs to Help Law Enforcement and Other Ohio First Responders Cope with Post-Traumatic Stress

WASHINGTON, DC – During National Police Week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to discuss his bipartisan efforts to increase mental health support for Ohio’s first responders.

First responders can face long-term effects from providing life-saving services to others in moments of crisis, yet Ohio departments often do not have the capacity and resources necessary to provide the comprehensive mental health supports that officers need and deserve. Brown reintroduced the bipartisan Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022 with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to establish mental health programs to help America’s police, fire, emergency medical, and 911 personnel cope with the stresses of responding to crisis situations.

“Police officers play a crucial role in keeping our community safe, putting themselves in harm’s way and navigating intense and stressful situations. Unfortunately, our local police and fire departments often do not have the resources to offer comprehensive mental health support,” said Brown. “Police officers are better able to do their jobs and build community relationships when they feel supported and have access to mental health care. This bipartisan legislation is an opportunity for us to help protect the first responders who serve our communities every day.”

Brown was joined on the call by Ohio Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Jason Pappas.

“Across the country, there is a dire need for consistent access to mental health services for our law enforcement officers who develop PTSD,” said Vice President Pappas. “Currently, access is limited due to a lack of funding at the state and local levels, a lack of practitioners trained specifically for our line of work, and there is no dedicated network access point for first responders. This act would help eliminate those barriers and save lives.”

Senator Brown reintroduced the bill which would require the Department of Justice’s COPS office to propose one or more programs to Congress that could efficiently administer treatments to first responders across the United States suffering from post-traumatic and acute stress disorders. Such programs could include evidence-based trauma informed care, peer support, counselor services, and family supports while taking into account in-person and telehealth capabilities.

In developing these programs, DOJ would consult stakeholders, including public-safety officers and the associations representing them and their families.

The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022 is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Senator Brown also introduced The Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act of 2021, which would provide $15 million in funding over 3 years through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help train police on how to best interact with individuals with mental health illnesses and resolve and de-escalate any potential issues that may arise. The goal of the bill is to improve training for these types of responses to better keep our officers safe, ensure individuals in crisis are treated with dignity, and improve trust amongst the communities affected.

Senator Brown was instrumental in securing the appointment of Karhlton Moore, former Executive Director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), to serve as Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Brown, along with his Democratic colleagues in the Ohio congressional delegation, wrote to President Biden in January urging him to appoint Mr. Moore to serve as Director of BJA. Mr. Moore oversees a host of important programs including the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program, which has provided funding to over 13,000 law enforcement jurisdictions for the purchase of more than 1.4 million lifesaving vests since 1999. Brown leads a letter every year to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies urging them to provide this funding to BJA.

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