U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently announced a plan to fund mental health and wellness resources for law enforcement.
Garland addressed police chiefs from across the country at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Officer Safety and Wellness Symposium in Atlanta on March 16, where he spoke of the importance of providing mental health assistance to officers who respond to traumatizing calls.
“I know that the impact of responding to a difficult call stays with you,” Garland said, referencing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and the September 11 terror attacks that claimed the lives of around 3,000 people.
Garland said that the DOJ is partnering with law enforcement agencies around the country to make sure officers can stay mentally fit and capable.
“Law enforcement officers are the Justice Department’s indispensable partners, and we know that we cannot do our jobs successfully if you cannot do yours safely,” Garland said of the importance of mental health.
According to Garland, funding will come from the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which will go to suicide prevention resources, among others.
“I am pleased that earlier this week, the COPS Office released the department’s solicitation for this year’s Law Enforcement and Wellness Act grants to support $7 million in suicide prevention and other mental health initiatives,” Garland said.
Garland explained that $2 million in grant money would fund a consortium to prevent suicides in law enforcement, and $1.5 million will go toward improving officers’ overall wellness.
“I do want to reiterate our commitment to providing you with the support that you need,” he said.
According to a press release on the COPS website, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) program will provide funding mental health and wellness services via peer-to-peer support programs, training, family resources, suicide prevention and other wellness programs, in addition to funding and spreading awareness of mental health issues.
The COPS Office stated that they have issued over $13 million in grants to law enforcement officers and their families.