TRENTON – In an effort to expand access to mental health services for law enforcement officers and their loved ones, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Nilsa Cruz-Perez which would establish the Law Enforcement Critical Mental Health Assistance Grant Program in the Department of Human Services.
“Due to the nature of law enforcement work, with its associated risks and stress, law enforcement officers and their families face a high probability of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation would ensure that officers and their loved ones are provided with adequate and confidential mental health services when in need.”
Under the bill, S-3816, the program would award grants to mental health providers to confidentially serve law enforcement officers or their immediate family members during mental health crises. The bill would appropriate $3 million towards the program.
“Law enforcement officers commonly do not divulge mental health struggles nor seek appropriate and necessary treatment due to the fear of negative repercussions,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Providing confidential support to law enforcement officers who are experiencing a mental health crisis would not only benefit the officer, but the community they serve as well.”
The bill would direct the Commissioner of Human Services to develop the application processes and selection criteria for the awarding of grants under the program.
The bill was voted out of committee by a vote of 5-0.