WASHINGTON – Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) today announced that he has cosponsored H.R. 2698, the Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and Kendra Horn (OK-05), aims to reduce the number of law enforcement officers and individuals who are killed or injured during situations in which mental health plays a role.
“The reality is that our law enforcement officers are often the first on the scene when someone is suffering a mental health crisis,” said 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 and the men and women in blue sworn to protect them.”
Currently, one in every 10 police response calls nationwide involve a person suffering from mental health challenges, one in every four people killed in a police response incident suffer from a mental illness, and one in every three people transported to a hospital emergency room for psychiatric reasons are taken there by law enforcement officers. To address those statistics, H.R. 2698 would provide $15 million over three years through the U.S. Department of Justice to help train law enforcement on how to best interact with individuals with a mental health illness and resolve or de-escalate any potential issues that may arise during interactions with them.
“Our Deputies are dealing with people every day that are suffering from mental health issues, that is why it is so very important to provide to our Deputies with this vital training,” said Geauga County Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand. “They need to have the knowledge to recognize these issues and how to properly deal with them. I feel it is imperative to educate our Deputies that not only work on the road but also our Deputies that work in the jail. I applaud the fact that the Congressman recognizes how very important this is and how funding will help with this education.”
“NAMI has long advocated for the use mental health training for our law enforcement community. We are proud in Lake County to collaborate with Crossroads Health to provide the Crisis Intervention Team program to both police officers and dispatchers,” said Katie Jenkins, Executive Director of NAMI Lake County. “However, we recognize the financial burden to take officers off the road to receive this training can be overwhelming. My hope is that H.R. 2698 will create a funding mechanism that will remove the financial burden. We believe this bill has the power to decrease the number of deaths of not only law enforcement, but also individuals with a mental health condition.”
“When people are dealing with mental health challenges, their behavior can be dangerous to themselves, those around them, and the police who so often are called to intervene. Engaging with people in the middle of a mental health crisis requires a different skill set, and many police officers have not been comprehensively trained in ways to engage with people who behave in these ways,” said OhioGuidestone Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Benjamin Kearney. “In these situations, police are our first responders – we must make sure that they are fully informed and equipped to deal with citizens who have challenging mental health conditions. I thank Congressman Joyce for cosponsoring this bill.”