Dear Representatives Quigley, Dean and Steube,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for your bill, H.R. 3735, the “Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act.” This legislation would establish a program to collect data on law enforcement and former law enforcement suicides at the local, State, and Federal level.
Every day in every community, officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. However, these officers are not just at risk physically-the mental health challenges of police work are real and can result in depression, substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, marital problems and, all too often suicide.
Federal efforts like the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) program administered by the Federal Bureau oflnvestigation (FBI) collects data on law enforcement officers who are killed, injured or assaulted in the line of duty and analyzes this information to improve existing officer safety training protocols. A better understanding of the physical threats officers face when on duty leads to advancements in equipment and training to mitigate these risks.
However, while much has been done to protect our officers’ physical safety, the sad reality is that we lose more officers to suicide ever year than die in the line of duty. Like the LEOKA program, the “Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act” would collect information on law enforcement and former law enforcement suicides and attempted suicides and use it to improve existing suicide prevention programs. We know that officers in crisis need help, but we need more information if we are to be successful in our efforts to do so.
I know firsthand that the men and women in law enforcement are proud of their service, but I also know that service comes at a cost. The physical and mental stresses these officers endure over the course of their career will take their toll, and we believe we have a duty to assist and support them any way we can. This legislation will help us do just that.
On behalf of the more than 348,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you for introducing this bill to help our law enforcement officers who may be struggling with mental wellness issues and I look forward to working with you to get this bill through the House. If I can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Executive Director, Jim Pasco, in my Washington Office.