ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- During U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's visit to Atlanta, he delivered a speech on supporting officers' mental health and safety, and he discussed grants from the Department of Justice that will go toward those goals.
As police officers encounter more people with mental health issues, many of them battle mental health issues of their own, brought on by the dangers they face when responding to calls.
Garland addressed the issue at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Officer Safety and Wellness Symposium on March 16, 2022. "I know that the impact of responding to a difficult call stays with you," he said.
He referenced tragedies like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. The 911 attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people also come to mind for many officers, but the risks they take day-to-day often threaten their mental health and safety.
"Law enforcement officers are the Justice Department's indispensable partners, and we know that we cannot do our jobs successfully if you cannot do yours safely," said Garland.
Garland announced how the DOJ is partnering with law enforcement agencies around the country. "I am pleased that, earlier this week, the COPS Office released the department's solicitation for this year's Law Enforcement and Wellness Act grants to support $7 million in suicide prevention and other mental health initiatives," said Garland. COPS is the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice.
Garland also said a $2 million grant will fund plans for a consortium on preventing law enforcement suicide, and a $1.5 million grant will help address officers' wellness. "I do want to reiterate our commitment to providing you with the support that you need," he said.
He says it's about making sure officers have the resources they need to do their jobs safely.
According to a press release, through Law Officer Wellness and Mental Health grants, the COP Office has issued over $13 million in grants to law enforcement officers and their families.
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