AP NEWS

Boyd announces support for new law enforcement act

May 18, 2017 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd has announced his support for efforts by Indiana U.S. senators to pass legislation supporting mental health initiatives for police officers.

The bipartisan bill, titled the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, was introduced by U.S. senators Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, and Todd Young, R-Indiana, and passed Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.

According to the bill’s authors, it would help law enforcement agencies establish or enhance mental health care services for their officers.

In a press release Wednesday, Boyd praised this bipartisan effort for bringing to light a serious issue facing police officers.

“I applaud this bill that is meant to support the unsung heroes in our communities," he said in the release. "Police officers face a multitude of issues each and every day that take a toll on their mental health and well-being. It is common knowledge that a policeman’s life expectancy is shorter than the average due to the extreme stress they face. We appreciate the efforts of Senator Donnelly and Senator Young in guiding this bill through the senate and encourage the same action in the House of Representatives.”

The bill must now pass the U.S. House of Representatives before it can go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

In a separate release, Donnelly said, “Passage of this bipartisan legislation is a major step toward supporting the mental health of our law enforcement officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect communities and families in Indiana and across the country. I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will quickly consider and pass this legislation, so that it becomes law and we can better support the mental health and wellness needs of our law enforcement officers.”

Young said, “During National Police Week we honor the men and women in blue who literally answer the call to serve and protect our communities every day. Passage of this bill will help ensure that they have access to the services they need to remain ready to serve. I am grateful for the bipartisan support of my colleagues in the Senate, I know it has also garnered strong support in the House of Representatives and I hope they will hold a vote on it soon as well.”

According to the release, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act would make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, direct the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to develop resources for mental health providers based on the specific mental health challenges faced by law enforcement, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.

It would also direct the Departments of Defense (DoD), Justice, and Veterans Affairs (VA) to confer about existing DoD and VA mental health practices and services that could be adopted by law enforcement agencies.

The legislation has the support of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO), the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

-From staff reports