June 12, 2019

Reschenthaler Bill to Improve Mental Health Care for Law Enforcement Officers Passes Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, H.R. 2368, the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act, passed in the House Judiciary Committee by a unanimous voice vote. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) and Madeleine Dean (PA-04), will improve mental health treatment and support for our nation's law enforcement officers by reforming and expanding an existing grant program to better address the needs of law enforcement officers, especially as it relates to suicide prevention.

"Law enforcement officers endure extremely stressful situations and put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities," said Reschenthaler. "The federal government needs to do more to address the consequences of this taxing work. I am proud to work with Congresswoman Dean to fix this wrong and support police officers and their families."

The stress endured by law enforcement officers can cause health conditions such as high blood pressure and post-traumatic stress disorder. Alarmingly, it has also resulted in a suicide rate that is 50 percent higher than the national average.

According to the National Study of Police Suicides, officers are 2.5 times more likely to die from suicides than from homicides. This sobering statistic means that law enforcement officers are more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty.

The STOIC Act would address this problem by allowing family-services grant program funding to be used to establish suicide prevention programs and support officers suffering stress and mental health issues. The program would be authorized at $7.5 million annually for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2024.

The legislation is nearly identical to S. 998, which was introduced by Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and passed the senate by Unanimous Consent last month. The bill has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Sheriff's Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National District Attorney's Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

"I am proud that my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee voted to prioritize the mental health of our law enforcement officers by supporting the STOIC Act," said Reschenthaler. "Thank you for helping us take care of those who take care of us."