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Judiciary Committee Advances Four Bipartisan Bills Supporting Law Enforcement During Police Week

Chair Durbin additionally announces that the Committee will hold a hearing to examine the impact of gun violence on law enforcement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today announced that the Committee advanced four bipartisan bills, by voice vote, that will help support law enforcement officers and their families by providing more support for mental health needs and helping to make sure officers have the resources and training they need to provide safe and effective community policing.

Key Durbin quotes:

“Being a police officer has always been a challenge.  But it’s particularly tough these last few years.  Officers on the beat continue to confront the challenges of the pandemic and the spikes in shootings that communities all around the country are experiencing.”

“We know gun violence is the number one cause of police officer killings in the line of duty.  I will never forget the funeral service for Chicago Police Officer Ella French, who was murdered last year during a routine traffic stop by an armed attacker with a straw purchased gun…  In the coming weeks, this Committee will hold a hearing to examine the threats law enforcement officers face from these violent attacks.”

“These challenges have led to another serious problem… losing law enforcement officers to suicide…  In the City of Chicago, we have one of the highest rates of police officer suicide in America—60 percent above the national average.”

“Let me be clear:  effective law enforcement is critical to ensuring public safety, but law enforcement alone will not solve the problems that they face.  We can only create safe communities by investing in those communities as well.  We can, and must, address the root causes of crime by addressing poverty that [often] leads to desperation and misguided choices.  We also have to address the issue of trauma.”

In 1962, President Kennedy signed a law authorizing the President to proclaim May 15 as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week in which it falls as “Police Week.”  This is an important week to honor the men and women of law enforcement who serve and protect our communities bravely and honorably and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Today’s bills focus on providing funding for community policing and law enforcement officer mental health resources.

  • S. 4007, the Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022:  Led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE), this bipartisan bill directs the Attorney General and the COPS Office to propose programs that provide evidence-based trauma-informed care and support for public safety officers and 911 dispatchers to help treat and prevent job-related post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder.  It also requires the Attorney General to consult with relevant stakeholders in preparing the report.
  • S. 3860, the Invest to Protect Act of 2022:  Led by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Grassley, this bill would provide $250 million in grants over five years through the COPS Office to support smaller law enforcement agencies.  The grant funds could be used to invest in de-escalation training, domestic violence training, officer safety, equipment, mental health support, recruitment, and retention.
  • S. 2151, the Strong Communities Act:  Led by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX), this bill would help boost community policing by strengthening recruitment from within communities themselves.  It would provide that COPS grant funds can be used for local law enforcement recruits to attend law enforcement training programs if the recruits agree to serve in precincts where the recruits live.
  • S. 4003, the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022:  Led by Senators Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), this bill would provide federal support for local law enforcement to adopt de-escalation training to respond more effectively to people suffering mental or behavioral crises.  It would require the Attorney General to develop de-escalation training curricula, authorize $70 million in annual grant funding for training, and evaluate implementation to improve trainings and outcomes.

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

Earlier this week, Durbin met with Illinois law enforcement leaders to thank them for their service and discuss with them the need to provide funding and resources to address mental health challenges facing law enforcement as well as challenges to officer recruitment and retention.

Durbin and Grassley also led 84 of their Senate colleagues in a resolution commemorating the service of America’s law enforcement officers and honoring the 576 law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2021, including nearly 400 who died from COVID-19, as well as the 92 lost to date in 2022.