07.26.19

Whitehouse-Hawley Bill to Prevent Officer Suicide Signed Into Law

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

Washington, DC – Last night, the White House announced that President Trump signed into law the bipartisan Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).  The legislation restores grant funding for law enforcement support services and allows grant recipients to use funds to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for police officers.  The STOIC Act passed with unanimous support in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Police officers routinely encounter danger and tragedy in the course of their duties,” said Whitehouse.  “I’m proud that our bill has been signed into law so that we can start getting more resources into communities to help members of law enforcement deal with what they must bear to keep people safe.”

Hawley said, “I’m thrilled that President Trump signed my bipartisan legislation to support the heroes of law enforcement into law.  This legislation will save lives by providing critical aid to officers in crisis.”

Suicide is the number one cause of death for police officers in the United States, but Congress has 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.  The STOIC Act authorizes $7.5 million annually for the next five years for law enforcement mental health and support services that have gone unfunded for almost two decades. 

“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.”

 

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.

U.S. Representatives Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) introduced companion legislation in the House.

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