INDIANAPOLIS – The Improving Law Enforcement Officer Safety and Wellness Through Data Act (S. 3522) would expand on how the Federal government reports attacks on law enforcement officers. The bill was re-introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) in the U.S. Senate and is co-sponsored by Sens. Ben Luján (NM), Thomas Tillis (NC), Margaret Hassan (NH) and Bill Cassidy (LA). The bill’s text can be found here.
The Federal government currently collects basic information on these attacks via the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) database. Data points include whether an officer was killed accidentally or unlawfully; when the attack occurred; the type of weapon that was used; and whether the officer sustained injuries.
To better understand the factors involved in the rise of violence — including ambush-style attacks — being perpetrated on police officers, a wider breadth of data is needed. This bill would provide this by expanding on the information already provided in LEOKA.
If enacted, the Attorney General would be required to present a report to the Judiciary Committees of both Congressional chambers. This report would include critical data on the number of offenders who target law enforcement due to anti-police sentiment. It would incorporate an analysis of how Federal, State, and local police agencies respond to these attacks, and how well they prepare their officers to prevent attacks and respond to them.
Other essential data points would include the effectiveness and limitations of the Federal Bulletproof Vest Partnership (that distributes protective gear to U.S. police agencies); an examination of gaps in current data reporting; and a study of legislative tools that may help in deterring ambush attacks.
Lastly, this report would better identify how frequent and severe attacks impact officers’ mental health. It would also study the types of mental health services currently available, and identify potential new services.
“By pinpointing how assaults on police officers originate, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers would be in a better position to develop more effective preventative solutions,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director, National Police Association. And “With a better understanding of how police officer mental health is impacted by these assaults, lawmakers and law enforcement agencies would be better equipped to offer practical support services,” she added.
The Improving Law Enforcement Officer Safety and Wellness Through Data Act goes a long way in improving both the physical and mental well being of police officers. We urge Congress to pass it.
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This article originally appeared at The National Police Association and was reprinted with permission.