WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced the Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act, which would help law enforcement respond more effectively to people with mental or behavioral health issues through improved training and the assistance of mental health professionals on crisis intervention teams. The bill would also empower police and the mental health professionals working with them to connect individuals to mental and behavioral health services in their community.
“Our law enforcement often has to make up for the shortcomings of our mental health system,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We must support our law enforcement with the tools and training they need to ensure the safety of themselves and the individual in the midst of a mental health crisis.”
“Too often, police respond when someone is suffering a mental health or behavioral health issue, yet lack the resources they need to do so effectively. We can save lives by equipping officers to recognize and respond appropriately to those situations, to work with mental health professionals, and connect people to treatment,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m pleased to join with Senator Cornyn on this important bill.”
“We ask law enforcement in our communities to wear too many hats, including that of mental health provider, and they often do not have enough resources or training to provide the level of care individuals in crisis need,” said Senator Cornyn. “We must give them the necessary tools so officers feel supported while helping those experiencing mental health emergencies and other crises, and this legislation would do just that.”
Cassidy, Whitehouse, and Cornyn were joined by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
The Bipartisan Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act would:
- Require the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to developing curricula in the training topics, or identifying existing curricula, in consultation with law enforcement, mental health organizations, family advocacy organizations, and civil liberties groups, among other stakeholders;
- Authorize $70 million in annual grant funding for training, including scenario-based exercises and evaluative assessments;
- Require the National Institute of Justice and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the implementation of the program and the effect of the training, to ensure that the curricula have a tangible impact on law enforcement encounters with people in crisis, and identify possible changes that would further improve outcomes.