Washington, DC – On July 14, Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney from California introduced a new bill to the House of Representatives to provide for mental health training for law enforcement, and for other purposes.

  • The bill is an effort to give law enforcement and first responders the necessary tools to better understand the signs and symptoms of mental health and assess the impact on individuals, families, communities, and those with the potential to enter the criminal justice system
  • Rep. McNerney’s legislation calls for specialized training that would provide officers with the tools to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and funding for states to create a database for all public safety and outreach
  • The training should be facilitated by mental health personnel, experienced officers and other stakeholders and include role-playing scenarios and group problem-solving exercises

The bill would also make funding available for mental health training for call-takers and 911 dispatchers that includes the following recommendations:

  1. Asking if there is a history of mental health, drug abuse, violence or victimization
  2. Determining if the person poses a harm to him/herself and/or others;
  3. Ascertaining if there is a weapon involved
  4. Establishing interagency sharing of best practice standards
  5. Providing supplemental training with a concise list of questions to ask compiled by mental health professionals

“Law enforcement officers and first responders across the country are faced with difficult and often unpredictable situations on a daily basis that require careful response to ensure public safety. My Mental Health Training Enhancement for First Responders Act aims to provide officers and law enforcement personnel with appropriate intervention tools and techniques to address interactions involving individuals with mental illness who might be experiencing a crisis,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney. “Our police and first responders sacrifice much to keep us safe, and making investments in their training and skills development ensures they are best prepared to protect our communities.”

  • Rep. McNerney’s legislation also looks to improve mental health response by leveraging community partnerships between schools and community and faith-based organizations
  • Rep. McNerney met with a series of stakeholders from local law enforcement, mental health experts and advocates, juvenile protection and delinquency groups, gang violence prevention, education leaders, community services, and other non-profit organizations