New law to enhance mental health services for officers

New law to enhance mental health services for officers
Senator Joe Donnelly (Source: WAVE 3 News)
New Albany Police Department chief Todd Bailey (Source: WAVE 3 News)
New Albany Police Department chief Todd Bailey (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Senator Joe Donnelly was shoulder-to-shoulder with New Albany police Monday morning to celebrate a new law he introduced to help them.

Donnelly introduced a bill in April of 2017 to establish or enhance mental health services for police officers. He was inspired after working with members of the military.

"Sometimes they experience situations that really defy description," Donnelly said.

It's a job few can handle.

"Many horrific crime scenes, many horrific automobile accidents," New Albany Police Department chief Todd Bailey said. "At least more than one time where someone actually actively tried to kill me."

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Situations like the one Bailey mentioned stick with men and women in blue, sometimes they can't shake it.

The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act hopes to tackle that issue. It will allow agencies to establish or enhance mental services for officers.

Donnelly started the push for the legislation, but it was supported on both sides of the aisle.

"It was Hoosiers coming together to try and make it so that these men and women who protect us everyday, to know that we have their back," Donnelly said.

The new law will allow for grants to initiate annual mental health checks and study the effectiveness of crisis hotlines.

The Fraternal Order of Police believes that is desperately needed.

"The FOP prioritized the need to address the staggering number of officers affected by post-traumatic stress disorder and police suicide," Indiana Fraternal Order of Police vice president Toby Deaton said.

Bailey said Indianapolis police have started a peer mentorship program that has proven to be effective, they plan to start one in New Albany as well.

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