SUPPORTING AND TREATING OFFICERS IN CRISIS ACT OF 2019; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 115
(House of Representatives - July 10, 2019)

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[Pages H5329-H5331]
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         SUPPORTING AND TREATING OFFICERS IN CRISIS ACT OF 2019

  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(S. 998) to amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 
1968 to expand support for police officer family services, stress 
reduction, and suicide prevention, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                 S. 998

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Supporting and Treating 
     Officers In Crisis Act of 2019''.

     SEC. 2. EXPANDING SUPPORT FOR POLICE OFFICER FAMILY SERVICES, 
                   STRESS REDUCTION, AND SUICIDE PREVENTION.

       Part W of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
     Streets Act of 1968 (34 U.S.C. 10491 et seq.) is amended--
       (1) in the part heading, by striking ``family support'' and 
     inserting ``support for law enforcement officers and 
     families'';
       (2) in section 2301 (34 U.S.C. 10491)--
       (A) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``, including any 
     research and reports developed under the Law Enforcement 
     Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-113; 
     131 Stat. 2276)'' after ``interested parties''; and
       (B) in paragraph (4), by inserting ``, psychological 
     services, suicide prevention,'' after ``stress reduction'';
       (3) in section 2302 (34 U.S.C. 10492), by inserting ``and 
     mental health services'' after ``family support services''; 
     and
       (4) in section 2303 (34 U.S.C. 10493)--
       (A) in subsection (b)--
       (i) in paragraph (1), by inserting ``officers and'' after 
     ``law enforcement''; and
       (ii) by amending paragraph (4) to read as follows:
       ``(4) Evidence-based programs to reduce stress, prevent 
     suicide, and promote mental health.''; and
       (B) in subsection (c)--
       (i) in paragraph (5), by inserting ``, mental health 
     crisis, and suicide prevention'' after ``family crisis'';
       (ii) in paragraph (6), by striking ``the human 
     immunodeficiency virus'' and inserting ``infectious 
     disease'';
       (iii) in paragraph (8), by inserting ``, injured, or 
     permanently disabled'' after ``killed''; and
       (iv) by striking paragraph (10) and inserting the 
     following:
       ``(10) Specialized training for identifying, reporting, and 
     responding to officer mental health crises and suicide.
       ``(11) Technical assistance and training to support any or 
     all of the services described in paragraphs (1) through 
     (10).''.

     SEC. 3. REAUTHORIZING GRANT PROGRAMS FOR SUPPORTING LAW 
                   ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND FAMILIES.

       Section 1001(a)(21) of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control 
     and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (34 U.S.C. 10261(a)(21)) is 
     amended to read as follows:
       ``(21) There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
     part W, $7,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 
     2024.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Bass) and the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.


                             General Leave

  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 998, the Supporting and 
Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019, also known as the STOIC Act. 
This bill would provide important mental health and suicide prevention 
services to law enforcement officers and their families.
  Specifically, it would modify an existing, but expired, authorization 
providing support to law enforcement officers' families to add mental 
health and suicide prevention programs directed at officers themselves. 
Additionally, S. 998 would also reauthorize the family support 
provisions and would appropriate up to $7.5 million for each fiscal 
year from 2020 to 2024 to carry out both the family and law enforcement 
officer mental health programs.
  The law enforcement officers this grant program would assist all too 
often face dangerous and horrific challenges, which takes a hard toll 
on them and, often, their families. Too frequently, local resources are 
not readily available or accessible for these purposes. S. 998 would 
bridge this critical gap.
  Seeking help is often the hardest step to take to address one's 
mental health issues. It can be especially difficult for law 
enforcement officers because of the stigma against it within the law 
enforcement community and, too often still, in society as a whole. The 
aim of this legislation is to help overcome this reluctance by 
destigmatizing mental health treatment in the law enforcement 
community.
  Provisions in this legislation encourage recipients of grant funding 
to set up suicide prevention hotlines. These lifelines are a critical 
step for getting those officers who need it the assistance they require 
and thereby help address the nationwide tragedy of officer suicide.
  The impact of on-the-job stress is not limited to law enforcement 
officers, however. The underlying expired grant program, which this 
bill reauthorizes, permits recipients of grant programs for marital and 
adolescent support groups. This ``whole family'' approach to mental 
health services is essential for retaining officers. It is often said 
that departments recruit officers and retain families. Family support 
programs, such as those authorized in S. 998, provide critical support 
that keeps officers on patrol.

[[Page H5330]]

  Lastly, included in the reauthorization is the ability for recipients 
of this grant to provide child care on a 24-hour basis. This provision 
furnishes much-needed support to single parent officers, many of whom 
are women. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that there are over 
100,000 female law enforcement officers nationwide. Child care 
programs, as authorized in this measure, help promote family-friendly 
workplaces and facilitate the employment of more female officers.
  S. 998 is identical to H.R. 2368, a bipartisan measure sponsored by 
our House Judiciary Committee colleague, the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania, Representative Guy Reschenthaler, with the support of the 
gentlewoman from Pennsylvania, Representative Madeleine Dean. I should 
also note that the Judiciary Committee passed the House bill by voice 
vote last month.
  Accordingly, I support this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the 
same.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, as a son of a state trooper and 
as someone who also has served as a chaplain to police agencies and our 
first responders, this is a very important bill to me. I cannot think 
of a better Member from our side of the aisle who supported this, and 
also the chairwoman and others who have supported this, but Guy 
Reschenthaler is a champion of this from his service days and also from 
his background.
  Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to yield such time as he may consume to 
the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Reschenthaler), the lead author on 
the Republican side of the STOIC Act.
  Mr. RESCHENTHALER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of S. 998, 
the Senate companion to this bipartisan legislation, that I introduced 
with Congresswoman Dean, that will address the mental health needs of 
our Nation's police officers.
  Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to 
protect our communities.
  Last year, when the Tree of Life synagogue was under attack, the 
Pittsburgh police and police from around the region ran into open 
gunfire to stop a deranged, hateful madman intent on killing as many 
worshippers as possible. Were it not for the heroic efforts of the 
police that day, the tragic loss of life could have been much worse.
  Across the country, we sleep safely in our beds each night because of 
our law enforcement officers. But the critical work that these men and 
women undertake does not come without a cost.
  According to the National Study of Police Suicides, law enforcement 
officers are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from suicides than 
from homicides. Studies show that police officers have above average 
stress levels that lead to post-traumatic stress, heart disease, and 
high blood pressure. Despite all we do for our communities, the Federal 
Government provides few resources to address the consequences of their 
taxing work.
  The STOIC Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation that will reform 
and expand an existing grant program to better address the mental 
health and support needs of our law enforcement, most importantly as it 
relates to suicide prevention.

  I am very grateful to Senator Hawley and Senator Whitehouse for their 
work to get this bill through the Senate.
  I also, again, thank Ranking Member Collins and Chairman Nadler for 
prioritizing this important piece of legislation.
  And, most importantly, I thank my friend and fellow Pennsylvanian, 
Congresswoman Dean, for her tireless work to improve mental health 
treatment for police across the country. Throughout this entire 
process, Congresswoman Dean has shown tremendous appreciation for law 
enforcement officers and great concern for the well-being of them and 
their families. It has truly been a pleasure to work on this bill with 
Congresswoman Dean.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to support the STOIC Act today. It 
is time for us to take care of those who take care of us.
  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Pennsylvania (Ms. Dean).
  Ms. DEAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Nadler, Chairwoman Bass, and 
my colleague and friend from Pennsylvania for their efforts in moving 
this important legislation forward.
  Every day our law enforcement professionals don their uniforms, show 
up for work, and take on the extraordinary responsibility of keeping us 
safe. It is work that, too often, goes unnoticed or underappreciated, a 
kind of quiet heroism. But that work can also exact a very heavy toll.
  The Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis, STOIC, Act responds 
to the growing emergency in the law enforcement community. Studies show 
that law enforcement officers face a wide range of stressors, including 
responding to violent crime, managing crisis situations, and, as 77 
percent of officers report, dealing with insufficient departmental 
support for their mission.
  This stress has serious consequences. Studies indicate that 1 in 4 
officers report stress-based physical health problems, and 1 in 14 meet 
the criteria for PTSD. Think of that: just showing up for this 
important work places our law enforcement professionals at increased 
risk for a wide range of health problems.
  Suicide among our law enforcement community is rising at a troubling 
rate, as well. The CDC reported in 2016 that the suicide rate in this 
community is 50 percent higher than the national average. In recent 
years, the number of law enforcement who have died by suicide has even 
surpassed the number of officers killed in the line of duty.
  According to Blue H.E.L.P., we lost 142 officers to suicide in 2016. 
Last year, that number jumped to 167 compared to 144 who tragically 
lost their lives in the line of duty.
  Officers in crisis need our support. The STOIC Act, both the Senate 
and the House version, will reform and expand existing grant programs 
to better address mental health, establish suicide prevention programs, 
and offer aid to officers' families.
  Our law enforcement officers are true public servants, and honoring 
their service means providing them with the support they deserve.
  I thank my colleague, fellow Pennsylvanian, Congressman 
Reschenthaler, for speaking in one voice across the aisle and across 
chambers. I thank him for his passion and his leadership on this 
bipartisan bill. It has been a pleasure to work with him and his team 
on an issue we both care deeply about. I look forward to our continued 
efforts, and I urge all Members to support the STOIC Act.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding; 
and I thank the two cosponsors, the gentleman from Pennsylvania and the 
gentlewoman from Pennsylvania, for a very important initiative that not 
one of us have, unfortunately, not heard of one of our law enforcement 
officers in recent years, in recent times, or in recent months 
committing suicide. That incident has occurred in my own community.
  It is clearly important to be able to provide this extra support, the 
Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019, the STOIC Act. 
It is crucial because it also impacts these families. These officers 
every day deal with such catastrophic incidences. In my own community, 
we have seen six little children killed over the last couple of months.

                              {time}  1545

  The individuals who arrive first to the scene are law enforcement 
officers, and they are moms and dads with children. And I cannot 
imagine the impact that those scenes, those crime scenes, have day 
after day on these officers who have joined the force to do good and to 
help people.
  We often say when we call 911, we are looking for the men and women 
in blue, and we are looking for them to strengthen those families who 
are broken or in crisis. This particular act would revitalize the DOJ's 
grant program for Law Enforcement Family Resources, in addition to 
allocating funds to establish suicide prevention, stress management, 
and mental health programs.
  We know that just as our military men and women face the devastation 
of

[[Page H5331]]

PTSD, members of our various law enforcement agencies who work to 
protect us also experience post-traumatic stress disorder.
  This program to enhance the grants that departments can secure will 
be able to fill in the gap and work with families and also deal with 
the question of those experiencing mental illness. Post-traumatic 
stress disorder can come in the form of depression, burnout, and other 
mental-health related issues and anxiety.
  We know that over the years, suicides have increased, but in 2017, an 
estimated 140 officers died from suicide, which exceeds the 129 that 
were killed in the line of duty.
  Mental illness is a silent, but lethal killer. We are working in the 
Judiciary Committee on the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act 
which will emphasize some of the protocols for improving, policing, 
working on professionalism, and working with the 18,000 police 
departments across America. I can't imagine waiting to pass this 
legislation to reignite the grant program to be able to help those who 
are now presently suffering.
  I am glad that this is a bicameral initiative. I hope that this will 
move quickly to the President's desk to sign, and I hope those funds 
will get to the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's 
Department, constables' offices, and various police departments across 
America.
  A healthy police officer, physically and mentally, is the best 
community relations that you could ever have. A healthy officer who 
works with children, who works with communities, who works with 
families, and shows up when the civic club asks them to come and speak 
about safety and security in the neighborhood, that is who we hope will 
be the kind of officer who will come to work every day.
  These grant programs will ensure that. Most of all, I would like to 
close by saying: for those law enforcement officers who are, many 
times, former military personnel and committed to the idea of service, 
go and get help. We are standing ready to help. These grant programs 
will allow police departments, cities, counties, and States to put out 
an effective and strong response to the needs of our law enforcement, 
and to thank them for their service
  Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Committee on the Judiciary, 
and on Homeland Security, I rise in strong support of S. 998, the 
``Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019,'' known for 
short as the ``STOIC Act''.
  The STOIC Act would reintroduce and revitalize the DOJ's grant 
program for Law Enforcement Family Services, in addition to allocating 
funds to establish, suicide prevention, stress management, and mental 
health programs.
  Mr. Speaker, as late as 2017, there were more than 600,000 law 
enforcement officers employed in the United States, charged with 
protecting their communities.
  Daily, the nation's law enforcement officers witness and experience 
all manner of trauma in the line of duty.
  As these brave members of our nation's various law enforcement 
agencies work to protect the individuals of their communities, the 
difficulties they experience often leave them with post-traumatic 
stress disorder (PTSD), depression, burnout and other mental health 
conditions related to anxiety.
  These anxiety-related illnesses can even result in suicide.
  In 2017, an estimated 140 officers died from suicide, which exceeds 
the 129 that were killed in the line of duty, making mental illness the 
silent killer and most lethal threat to law enforcement professionals.
  There is no doubt that these men and women suffering from mental 
health issues that occurred as a result of their efforts to protect and 
serve their communities, deserve our support throughout their recovery 
and treatment.
  By passing S. 998, officers combating anxiety related mental health 
conditions, and their families, will receive improved support and care.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting S. 998 to ensure that 
the nation's law enforcement officers, and their families, receive the 
mental health care and rehabilitation they deserve.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I am ready to close.
  Again, it is a great bill. You have heard the accolades of the 
gentleman and gentlewoman from Pennsylvania. They have made that case 
clear, along with my friends from Texas and California.
  This is a good bill, I urge everybody to support it, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the tragically high number of law enforcement 
professionals who take their own lives each year is a serious problem 
that must be addressed.
  According to Blue H.E.L.P., an advocacy organization that works to 
reduce mental health stigma in the law enforcement community, 167 law 
enforcement officers committed suicide in 2018. By comparison, in the 
same year, 144 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty.
  S. 998 will help provide critical mental health and suicide 
prevention assistance to law enforcement officers in need. I therefore 
urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important measure, and 
I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Bass) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, S. 998.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________