Legislature approves two bills on officers' mental health

Pre-job screening, on-job mental health services

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon House gave final legislative approval Thursday to a pair of bills that will help provide law enforcement officers with appropriate psychological screening before starting work and adequate mental health services while on the job.

Senate Bill 423 and Senate Bill 424 are part of a year-long effort by the Legislature’s Policing and Mental Health Workgroup, in partnership with the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association’s joint Statewide Task Force on Officer Wellness.

While most law enforcement agencies in the state already provide psychological screening for prospective employees, some have no policy in place to address mental health wellness. SB 423 and 424 make it mandatory for agencies to do both.

Their goal is to ensure the hiring and retention of the best law enforcement candidates available and to encourage law enforcement agencies to consider their officers’ mental health as they progress through their careers.

"As a retired law enforcement officer of 40 years, 28 of which as a police chief in three Oregon cities, and as a former president of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, it was an honor to advocate for these two bills,” said Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton.

"Good public service requires that law enforcement officers understand mental health issues and are able to cope with the trauma that they experience in the line of duty. Both programs required by these bills are recognized nationwide as best practices for law enforcement.

"I’m proud of my colleagues in both chambers for voting unanimously to institute them here in Oregon. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) for his leadership on this issue,” Lewis added.

SB 423 and 424 now move to the governor's desk for final consideration and signing.

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