Dear Fellow Sergeant,
I am pleased to report that this evening the U.S. Senate passed two SBA priorities by unanimous consent: H.R. 6943, the “Public Safety Officer Support Act”; and H.R. 2992, the “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act.” Both bills now head to the White House where President Biden is expected to sign them into law.
The SBA has been a leader on the “Public Safety Officer Support Act” since its inception because the legislation ensures coverage under the federal Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program for those officers who succumb to injuries resulting from job-related PTSD or acute stress disorder. For the first time ever, the law will recognize the link between recurrent on-the-job exposures to traumatic events and the rise in deaths by suicide within the ranks of the NYPD and our nation’s law enforcement officers. As such, H.R. 6943 represents an extremely important step in addressing the unseen yet heavy toll that stress and exposure to trauma have on law enforcement by ensuring access to PSOB for those officers who die by suicide or succumb to injuries resulting from PTSD or acute stress disorder.
I am proud of the SBA’s work on this important bill, and our role working with Members of Congress, the Biden Administration, and many allies over this past year to advance H.R. 6943. We are extremely grateful for the leadership of chief bill sponsors Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. David Trone (D-MD) whose support and persistence were critical to the successful effort to pass this important legislation.
In addition to H.R. 6943, the SBA’s advocacy also helped to push through the Senate H.R. 2992, the “TBI/PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act” that the SBA helped to develop. This legislation directs the U.S. Justice Department to develop crisis intervention training tools for use by law enforcement and other public safety employees when interacting with community members who have TBI or PTSD. This type of training is extremely important, as law enforcement officers are often the first to respond to individuals experiencing mental and behavioral health crises, including those affected by TBI or suffering from PTSD. These situations can quickly escalate, placing the safety of both the officer and the individual at risk. Importantly, the bill also includes a critical officer mental health and wellness component, directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study and report to Congress on the incidence of concussion and TBI in law enforcement. This research will help lead to the development of resources to improve officer safety and support officers who have experienced TBI on the job. I would like to thank chief bill sponsors Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) for also working with us to achieve final passage of H.R. 2992.
Additionally, I would like to applaud and express the SBA’s appreciation for the congressional leaders who helped champion H.R. 2992 and H.R. 6943. In particular, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA), House leaders Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Finally, the SBA is pleased that the Senate also approved this evening several other SBA legislative priorities that must still be passed by the House of Representatives, including:
Vincent J. Vallelong
Sergeants Benevolent Association