WASHINGTON – A bipartisan package of law enforcement bills championed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sailed through the Senate during National Police Week. In a Senate floor speech this week, Grassley also thanked America’s law enforcement officers for continuing to serve our communities in the face of the added risk posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The package includes three bills aimed at improving mental health for law enforcement officers and improving access to financial support for families of officers lost or permanently disabled due to COVID-19. Each bill, along with a resolution commemorating National Police Week won unanimous approval in the Senate.
This bill improves timely access to financial aid for families of police officers and first responders lost or permanently disabled because of COVID-19. Grassley introduced this bill, which has 22 bipartisan cosponsors and endorsements from various law enforcement and public safety organizations.
“Today’s vote sends a loud and clear message to America’s public safety officers: We appreciate your steadfast dedication in the most trying times and we’re here to help if the unthinkable happens. Losing a first responder in the line of duty is always devastating. Families of those lost to COVID-19 shouldn’t face an uphill struggle to access financial support promised to them. The government already provides payments to families of officers or first responders who die or are permanently disabled from a work-related event. This bipartisan bill recognizes the unique challenges posed by this pandemic and better ensures that public safety officers’ families can quickly access financial help,” Grassley said.
The bill provides mental health support to law enforcement by encouraging the adoption of peer counselling programs, while protecting the privacy of federal officers who participate. Grassley is the lead Republican cosponsor of this bill, which was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
“Law enforcement officers across the country sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe and healthy, and they often endure challenging and traumatic situations in the process. Confidential peer counseling programs provide an important mental health outlet for these officers to share their experiences, decompress and receive guidance. This bill ensures officers have an opportunity to participate in peer counseling with the confidence that their privacy will be protected. I appreciate Sen. Cortez Masto’s leadership in this effort,” Grassley said.
This legislation helps improve law enforcement suicide prevention and mental health intervention programs by collecting anonymous data on suicides and attempted suicides. Grassley is an original cosponsor of this bill, which was introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
“Members of our law enforcement community are on the front lines of dangerous and highly stressful situations every day. The serious nature of their work can put them at a greater risk of developing issues related to their mental health. It’s important that we recognize this and reduce the associated stigma. Law enforcement officers put our safety first, and it’s time we return the favor,” Grassley said.