Klobuchar, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Behavioral Health Crisis Response Training for Law Enforcement
The Behavioral Health Crisis Response Improvements Act will support state and local law enforcement agencies with behavioral health response training for officers who respond to individuals with a mental illness or a substance use disorder
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan legislation to fund behavioral health crisis response training for law enforcement. The Behavioral Health Crisis Response Improvements Act will support state and local law enforcement agencies with training for officers who respond to cases involving people with a mental illness or substance use disorder.
“People struggling with mental health or substance use disorders are some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and they have different needs when interacting with law enforcement,” Klobuchar said. “It’s critical that our law enforcement agents have the tools to get the best possible outcome in moments of crisis. This bipartisan legislation will provide the training and support to prepare officers to protect everyone’s safety.”
“Police calls involving an individual experiencing a behavioral health crisis may present danger to the responding officers, to the community, and in many cases, to the individual who may be wielding a deadly weapon. We owe it to all to ensure that the law enforcement community is equipped with state of the art training on best practices to address encounters with individuals that may be suffering from a mental illness,” Murkowski said. “This legislation represents an effort to defuse what may be the most difficult situations faced by law enforcement, ensuring that those in crisis get the help they need, while simultaneously prioritizing officer and community safety.”
Police officers are often called to respond to incidents involving people struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders:
- People with severe mental illness generate no less than 1 in 10 calls for police service and occupy at least 1 in 5 of America’s prison and jail beds.
- Nearly 50% of people in prison or jail suffer from addiction.
- About 75% of individuals in a state prison or local jail who suffer from a mental illness also struggle with substance misuse.
The Behavioral Health Crisis Response Improvements Act amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to provide authority to the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in the Department of Justice to make grants on a competitive basis to State, local, Tribal, or territorial law enforcement agencies. The grants will allow law enforcement agencies to acquire behavioral health crisis response training. The legislation authorizes $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2022.
The legislation has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.