Chairman Nadler Statement for Markup of the “Public Safety Officer Support Act”
Washington, May 11, 2022
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a full committee markup of H.R. 6943, the “Public Safety Officer Support Act”:
“According to research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, public safety officers are 25 times more likely to develop acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health conditions than the general public.
“Studies have shown that law enforcement officers could experience more traumatic events in six months than the average person will experience in a lifetime.
“The Public Safety Officer’s Benefits Program, or PSOB, provides death and education benefits to survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, as well as disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
“Currently, the PSOB excludes from eligibility families of officers who die by suicide and does not deem PTSD and other trauma-related disorders to be line-of-duty injuries. This limitation not only fails to recognize that mental health is physical health, but it also prevents the federal government from providing support to officers, who put their safety and well-being on the line every day for the communities they serve.
“The Public Safety Officer Support Act would right past wrongs and ensure that families of police officers and first responders receive critical financial assistance as they grieve the loss of their loved ones. It would also ensure that officers who are disabled as a result of traumatic events receive the support and care that they need.
“This legislation would also bring the PSOB program into alignment with the provision of federal military death benefits for the families of military service members who die by suicide.
“The need for this worthy and overdue change is even more apparent as we continue to grieve the tragic loss of four police officers who died by suicide after responding to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“In addition to expanding eligibility for death and disability benefits to officers and their families, this bill would require GAO to study benefits provided under the expansion. This report will help us better understand the prevalence of traumatic events that law enforcement officers, first responders, and other public safety officers face, and the need to further support their mental health needs.
“I thank Representatives Trone and Reschenthaler for introducing this important bipartisan legislation, and for their continued support for public safety officers serving communities across the country. This bill is broadly supported by both mental health and law enforcement groups, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.”