Each year during National Police Week, we honor our law enforcement officers, and the families who support them and sacrifice alongside them. They all give so much in service to their communities, and too many lay down their lives to keep us safe.
While we can’t repay the debt we owe these heroes and their families, we can work together to protect Ohio communities by ensuring that our law enforcement officers have the support and resources they need to successfully do their jobs.
That’s why two weeks ago I joined my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response Act, to get police officers the training and support they need to respond to members of their community who call law enforcement when dealing with a mental health crises.
On average, one in 10 police response calls involves a person with a mental illness. And there have been far too many officers and members of the community hurt or killed when law enforcement is called on to respond to people suffering a mental health crisis. My bill would invest in training to help officers better handle these situations safely for themselves, and for the communities they serve.
But our support for our law enforcement can’t end there.
I’m also working with Senator Portman on our bipartisan POWER Act, to get our state and local officers the tools they need to screen for dangerous opioids in their communities.
Officers in Ohio know how big an issue illegal fentanyl has become – they deal with it on a nearly daily basis. Our bill builds on my INTERDICT Act, which the president signed into law last year. That law is getting new, portable hand-held screening devices to Customs and Border Protection agents to detect fentanyl at the U.S. border; the POWER Act will give our local and state law enforcement access to the same high-tech tools.
At a time when it may seem like not much is getting done in Washington, supporting the officers who protect us – and the families who sacrifice alongside them – is something we can come together on in a bipartisan way.
Let’s continue to support Ohio law enforcement, their families, and their fellow officers, as they work to protect Ohio communities.
Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio.