Dear Senators Ossoff, Grassley, and Kennedy,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong support for S. 4286, the “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Law Enforcement Training Act.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 2.9 million traumatic brain injury-related emergency visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States in 2014. Currently, between 3.2 million and 5.3 million people are living with a TBI-related disability in the United States, and between 7-8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
The effects of TBI can be short-term or long-term and include impaired thinking or memory, movement, vision or hearing, or emotional functioning, such as personality changes or depression. The law enforcement community, unfortunately, knows better than most the effects of traumatic events, as officers respond to and witness some of the most tragic events that happen in our communities. Nearly 1 in 4 law enforcement officers have had thoughts of suicide at some point in their life and the suicide rate among law enforcement officers is four times higher than the rate of firefighters. As we continue to find innovative tools and resources to help our officers, we must also ensure that they are equipped with the training for when officers interact with members of the community that suffer from similar injuries.
This legislation would direct the United States Attorney General to develop crisis intervention training tools for use by law enforcement and other public safety officers when interacting with community members who have TBI, another form of acquired brain injury, or PTSD. The training tools would be instrumental in helping officers interact with those who suffer from these injuries, given that the signs of TBI and PTSD often overlap with physical signs of alcohol or drug impairment, which complicate an emergency responder’s ability to quickly and effectively identify an individual’s condition. The training curriculum will not only better equip officers to ensure their safety, but it will enhance their ability to serve and protect their communities.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this legislation. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Executive Director, Jim Pasco, in our Washington, D.C. office.