Val Demings bill addressing law enforcement mental health becomes law - Florida Politics

Val Demings bill addressing law enforcement mental health becomes law

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed into law the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, a bill pushed in part by U.S. Rep. Val Demings to help address issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by law enforcement officers.

Demings, a Democrat who formerly served as Orlando police chief, introduced the bipartisan measure last spring along with Republican U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Doug Collins of Georgia, and David Reichert of Washington, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey.

The bill, House Resolution 2228, offers resources to law enforcement agencies to deal with mental health issues faced by officers, and make grants available for peer mentoring, training and support programs such as crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks. It does not address insurance or workers’ compensation issues, matters that have come to the forefront in the Florida Legislature this year in bills seeking to provide comprehensive mental health coverage for first-responders.

“As a former Chief of Police with 27 years in law enforcement, I did everything I could to protect my officers from dangerous situations. But the reality is that this is a dangerous job. Our law enforcement officers are at risk of physical and mental trauma every time they put on the uniform,” Demings stated in a news release from her office.

“We cannot ask our officers to do this work while failing to cope with the consequences. We must take care of them so they can take care of us. This important piece of legislation will ensure that agencies are better equipped and officers have any mental health support they need.”

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Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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