Gonzalez Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Police Training
Washington, D.C. , May 28, 2021
Today, U.S. Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Dave Joyce (OH-14), Val Demings (FL-10), Van Taylor (TX-03), and Henry Cuellar (TX-28) reintroduced the Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act. The bill authorizes funds for grants that local law enforcement offices can apply for to help train police on how to best interact with individuals with mental health illness and resolve and de-escalate potential situations that may arise. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the companion legislation in the United States Senate.
“The men and women of our police forces nationwide put their lives on the line to protect our communities every day,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “Having access to important resources like mental health crisis training can help save the lives of officers and citizens in crisis. I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to support our officers, and look forward to working with my colleagues to move the legislation forward.”
“This bipartisan legislation would help ensure public safety officers have the training necessary to interact with individuals experiencing mental health crises,” said Rep. Kaptur. “This commonsense legislation will help keep officers and members of the public safe. I am thankful for the bipartisan leadership of Congressman Gonzalez, Stephanie Bice, and Elaine Luria in support of this bill and urge the legislation’s swift passage in committee and the House.”
“An increasing number of Americans are experiencing behavioral health crises,” said Rep. Bice.” “It’s critical that law enforcement officers are prepared to appropriately respond to situations involving an individual living with a mental illness. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation to ensure officers receive the proper tools and resources to best serve all members of our communities.”
“Ensuring our officers have sufficient training to respond to every crisis will help save lives and improve public safety,” said Rep. Luria. “We need to empower law enforcement to more effectively de-escalate behavioral mental health crises and this bipartisan legislation will make a difference in communities throughout Coastal Virginia.”
“As a former prosecutor who had the privilege of working alongside law enforcement for over two decades, I know firsthand that our police officers are often the first on the scene when someone is suffering a mental health crisis,” said Rep. Joyce. “But without adequate training, those encounters can be both dangerous and tragic. By increasing coordination between law enforcement and local mental health professionals and providing officers with the training they need to respond to those in crisis, this bill will improve the safety of our communities as well as the safety of the men and women in blue sworn to protect them.”
“As a former 27-year law enforcement officer and Chief of Police I strongly support this effort to ensure safe and successful interactions between law enforcement and the millions of Americans who live with mental health challenges, as well as those under the influence,” said Rep. Demings. “Americans who face behavioral health crises deserve our greatest possible level of care, respect, and service, while also keeping police and innocent bystanders safe. It is my hope that this legislation will be an important step as we work to ensure positive outcomes for officers and for every person in our communities.”
“Ensuring our law enforcement officers are equipped with behavioral health crisis response training protects both the safety of the individual and the officer,” said Rep. Taylor. “I’m proud to support the Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response Act to help law enforcement officers better serve our communities and carefully respond to those experiencing a mental health crisis.”
“It’s important that those in our community suffering from mental illness have the support they need, and this bill is a key part of that puzzle. With one in every ten police calls involve a person suffering with mental illness, this bill will ensure law enforcement officers will have the right training to respond to these calls. I’m proud to join with this bipartisan group of lawmakers as we work to keep both our communities and law enforcement officers safe,” Rep. Ryan.
“It is critical that our law enforcement officers have the resources and training to respond to mental health crises. That is why I am pleased to co-sponsor The Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act of 2021,” said Rep. Cuellar. “As a Texas resident with family in law enforcement, I will continue to support common sense legislation that helps to keep our communities safe.”
The Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act would make federal grants available through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Byrne JAG program for local law enforcement agencies to receive behavioral health crisis response training. These programs help train officers responding to calls wherein an individual may be experiencing a mental health related crisis, and also encompasses opioid related crises. Providing access to this additional mental health training can better equip law enforcement officers to address challenging situations and reduce the number of injuries and deaths that result.
Gonzalez first introduced this bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the 116th Congress. The bill was supported by 33 bipartisan House co-sponsors as well as the National Tactical Officer’s Association, Fraternal Order of Police, National Sheriff’s Association, & Ohio Chiefs of Police Association.