Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement for the markup of H.R. 2368, the Supporting and Treating Officers In Crisis Act:
"H.R. 2368, the "Supporting and Treating Officers In Crisis Act of 2019," would provide important mental health and suicide prevention services to law enforcement officers.
"The bill would modify an existing, but expired, authorized program that provides support services to families of law enforcement officers by including services directly targeted at law enforcement officers themselves. This measure would also reauthorize the program, would expand the range of services that can be offered, and would authorize funding of up to $7.5 million for each of the next 4 fiscal years to fund both family and law enforcement mental health programs.
"Every day, we rely on the law enforcement community to keep our neighborhoods safe. Doing so is not easy. The work of law enforcement can be highly stressful.It often exposes those charged with upholding the law to dangerous and challenging circumstances. The American people set high standards for the law enforcement community and the vast majority of officers do so honorably and selflessly.
"Yesterday’s hearing on the Reauthorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was a reminder of the heroism and sacrifice our nation’s law enforcement officers are often called to muster.
"The impact of day-to-day patrolling on law enforcement officers, especially in the aftermath of a catastrophic event, is profound. Studies consistently show that law enforcement officers have above-average stress levels in their jobs.In their daily duties, 83% of officers report dealing with calls for service involving family disputes and crisis situations. Even more straining, 27% of officers report arriving to a scene with a dead or battered child.
"Given these daily rigors, it comes as no surprise that the mental health consequences for officers are pervasive. One study found that 7% of the officers sampled met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Centers for Disease Control concluded that the rate of suicides among workers in protective services—those who are employed in law enforcement and firefighting—is 50% higher than the national average.
"Officer suicides in 2017 and 2018 exceeded the number of officers killed in the line of duty, from homicides, traffic accidents, and other causes. The status quo cannot persist.
"Unlike other, recent efforts, this bill directs the Attorney General to provide grants that would direct mental health services to law enforcement officers and their families. This initiative includes evidence-based programs to reduce stress, prevent suicide, and promote mental health. Recipients of this grant may also use funds to establish suicide prevention hotlines and develop programs to provide specialized training to provide treatment to officers in crisis, or who are contemplating suicide.
"I thank our colleagues, the Gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Reschenthaler, and the Gentlelady from Pennsylvania, Ms. Dean, for championing this effort and introducing this bipartisan bill. I support this important legislation and I urge its adoption."