Today, at a roundtable with state and local law enforcement, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta announced alongside Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Acting Director Rob Chapman $7 million in grants for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Program. These program funds are used to improve the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement through training and technical assistance, demonstration projects, implementation of promising practices related to peer mentoring mental health and wellness and suicide prevention programs.
“Each day, law enforcement officers across the country put their lives on the line for the communities they serve,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “This has been especially true since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed hundreds of officers’ lives and added to the stress of an already difficult job. Mental health is as important as physical health, and the Department of Justice is committed to investing in mental health and wellness programs that help keep our nation’s law enforcement healthy and safe.”
“Law enforcement officers shoulder the solemn responsibility of protecting the public and experience high-stress and traumatic events throughout their careers,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The pandemic has only increased the strain on the policing profession. Maintaining – and improving – officers’ mental health is critically important, not only for them, but also for their fellow officers, their loved ones, and the communities they serve. The department is firmly committed to supporting the mental health of those who serve our communities so that they can best fulfill their duties to protect the public.”
Law enforcement professionals anticipate and accept the unique dangers and pressures of their chosen profession. However, people under stress find it harder than people not experiencing stress to connect with others and regulate their own emotions. They can experience narrowed perception, increased anxiety and fearfulness, and degraded cognitive abilities. This can be part of a healthy fight-or-flight response, but it can also lead to significantly greater probabilities of errors in judgment, compromised performance, and injuries.
As part of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, Congress authorized the COPS Office to establish peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies. Successful applicants identified specific program goals that will be directly accomplished if awarded LEMHWA funding. The 65 awards announced today meet the goals of the 2017 Act and support the Department of Justice and the Administration’s commitment to law enforcement. The full list of awards is available here: https://cops.usdoj.gov/lemhwa-award.
The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to organization for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 134,000 officers.