WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, Friday joined a coalition to reintroduce the Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act.
The coalition also include Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-OH, Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, Stephanie Bice, R-OK, Elaine Luria, D-VA, Dave Joyce, R-OH, Val Demings, D-FL, Van Taylor, R-TX, and Henry Cuellar, D-TX.
The bill aims to train police on interacting with individuals with mental health illness and resolving and de-escalating potential situations that may arise.
Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Jim Inhofe, R-OK, introduced the companion legislation in the Senate.
“It’s important that those in our community suffering from mental illness have the support they need, and this bill is a key part of that puzzle," Ryan said in a news release. "With one in every 10 police calls [involving] a person suffering with mental illness, this bill will ensure law enforcement officers will have the right training to respond to these calls."
The Law Enforcement Training For Mental Health Crisis Response Act would make federal grants available through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Byrne JAG program for local law enforcement agencies to receive behavioral health crisis response training.
Ryan said these programs help train officers responding to calls wherein an individual may be experiencing a mental health related crisis and also encompasses opioid related crises. Providing access to this additional mental health training can better equip law enforcement officers to address challenging situations and reduce the number of injuries and deaths that result, supporters argue.
This bill was first introduced by Gonzalez in the 116th Congress and was supported by 33 bipartisan House co-sponsors as well as the National Tactical Officer’s Association, Fraternal Order of Police, National Sheriff’s Association and Ohio Chiefs of Police Association.
“The men and women of our police forces nationwide put their lives on the line to protect our communities every day," said Gonzalez, a former Ohio State and NFL player. "Having access to important resources like mental health crisis training can help save the lives of officers and citizens in crisis."
"I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to support our officers, and look forward to working with my colleagues to move the legislation forward.”
Also Friday, Ryan and Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-MS, co-chairs of the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus, introduced two bills in support of the National Guard and Reserve.
The National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay Parity Act requires the military to provide Reserve and National Guard service members incentive and special duty pays at the same rate as their active duty counterparts.
Current legislation caps pay for National Guard and Reserves members at a fraction of what those on active duty receive.
“In a year when the National Guard and Reserve were deployed more than at any other time since World War II, Congress must do everything in its power to support the citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines [who] have made unimaginable sacrifices here at home and around the world,” Ryan said.
“Our National Guard is at the forefront of every state and national emergency," Palazzo said. "As the Mississippi National Guard has shown time and time again, they are resilient in responding to natural disasters, civil unrest, and overseas deployments."
The Guarding Readiness Resources Act of 2021 corrects the Miscellaneous Receipts Act and would allow the National Guard Bureau to retain reimbursements made by states and territories to the federal government for the use of federal equipment.
Both bills are supported by the National Guard Association of the United States and have companion bills in the Senate.