Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Protect Officers Seeking Mental Health Assistance

Steps are being taken on several fronts to help police officers battling mental health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Police PTSD was the subject of an exclusive NBC Connecticut Investigates story last week. 

A survey of almost 8,000 officers on PTSD by the Fraternal Order of Police and NBC owned stations, which included Connecticut officers, took a deeper look at the issues officers reported experiencing after stressful calls.

State Senator Heather Somers says she is taking aim at a state law that says if officers need mental health assistance and go to an inpatient facility, it is mandatory they surrender their gun and badge for a minimum of six months.

90% of officers surveyed said they believe there is a stigma in law enforcement about seeking help for mental illness

People NBC Connecticut Investigates spoke with in its police PTSD piece told us this deters officers from getting the help they need. Or, if they do get help, departments perceive them as a risk and don’t always let them go back to work.

Somers has sponsored a new bill that says if officers go to an inpatient facility and get released with a clean bill of mental health, they are entitled to get their gun and badge back immediately, and go back to work. “This at least gives an opportunity to get the mental health help that they need. I mean they see things that you and I don’t see on a daily basis.”

The legislature’s public health committee had a hearing on this police mental health bill earlier this month.

It has not been voted on it yet.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Conference Of Municipalities is urging everyone to hit pause.

CCM has concerns this bill will be too ambiguous and could put limitations on local government leaders.

The organization says it has reached out to people in local government and public safety to craft proposals that could be ready for lawmakers to review in a few weeks.

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