By Associated Press
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Federal law enforcement officers may soon be able to take advantage of peer counseling programs that have been offered to Nevada law enforcement since 2017.
A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., that encourages the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to adopt peer counseling programs and guidelines passed through the U.S. Senate on Monday. It now heads to the House of Representatives.
“Law enforcement officers across the country sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe and healthy, and they often endure challenging and traumatic situations in the process. Confidential peer counseling programs provide an important mental health outlet for these officers to share their experiences, decompress and receive guidance,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.
The bill is based off a 2017 state law authored by former Democratic Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, who previously worked as a firefighter and paramedic. Both the Nevada law and Cortez Masto’s proposal seek to address the mental health tolls of being a first responder and allow officers to discuss traumatic events among themselves confidentially without fearing repercussions. The confidentiality rules do not apply to admissions of criminal activity or threats to others.
After the Nevada law’s passage, the Reno Police Department implemented a peer support program.