TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Fred H. Madden, to broaden the crisis hotline program for law enforcement officers to include counseling for those who have been wounded in the line of duty, was unanimously approved by the full Senate today.
“Without question, the job of a law enforcement officer can be dangerous, and sometimes these brave men and women are injured on the job,” said Senator Rice, a former police officer in Newark. “The road to recovery can be a painful, confusing and perhaps frightening one, but it can more easily be navigated with help from their own. These law enforcement officers risked their own lives for us, and we need to see that they are taken care of and given all the help needed to fully recover.”
The bill, S-1374, would expand the existing “Law Enforcement Officer Crisis Intervention Services” toll-free hotline to incorporate a program designed specifically for counseling law enforcement officers who have been wounded on the job.
According to Senator Rice, D-Essex, “The new program would provide wounded law enforcement officers with peer counseling, debriefing, and therapy as part of a coordinated support plan.”
“As it stands today, the 24-hour toll-free crisis hotline receives calls from law enforcement and sheriff’s officers who have been involved in any incident that caused depression, anxiety, stress, emotional trauma, or disorder for the officer,” said Senator Madden, a former Lieutenant Colonel of the State Police. “The operators who will answer the calls will be trained in counseling services and provide referrals to officers who need further counseling services. It’s important that we provide counseling for wounded officers because there comes a time when people need a place to turn for help in overcoming tragedy.”
Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, stated that, “The new support program will be designed and implemented by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s University Behavioral Healthcare unit, and be officially named the “Blue Heart Law Enforcement Assistance Program.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.