July 10, 2019

Whitehouse-Hawley Bill to Prevent Officer Suicide Passes House, Moves to President’s Desk

Bipartisan STOIC Act would authorize funding for mental health and suicide prevention services geared toward law enforcement

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) bipartisan Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act, which restores grant funding for law enforcement support services and allows grant recipients to establish suicide prevention programs and mental health services for police officers.  Whitehouse sponsored the bill with Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in the Senate, where it passed unanimously in May. 

“Members of law enforcement routinely encounter danger and tragedy on the job,” said Whitehouse.  “Our bipartisan STOIC Act is now well on its way to becoming law and helping police officers deal strongly with what they must bear to keep their communities safe.”

Both Whitehouse and Hawley served as the chief law enforcement officers for their respective states before entering Congress. 

“The stress and trauma officers experience everyday weighs on them and can become overwhelming over time,” Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh Clements said last month.  “It is important to keep our officers physically and mentally sound for better quality of life at both work and at home.  I thank Senator Whitehouse for his support on this important issue in law enforcement in the 21st century.”

U.S. Representatives Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) introduced companion legislation in the House.  The bill is now headed to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.  Congress has passed fewer than 35 laws this year.

Suicide is the number one cause of death for police officers in the United States, but Congress has for years failed to fund grant programs that provide support services for police officers and their families.  Current grant programs do not allow for funds to be used for suicide prevention efforts, mental health screenings, or training to identify officers at risk. 

In addition to earning the support of law enforcement officials in Rhode Island, the STOIC Act has been endorsed by national law enforcement and mental health advocacy groups, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Sheriffs’ Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, National Fraternal Order of Police, National District Attorneys Association, and International Association of Chiefs of Police.



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