ATLANTA — A bipartisan bill that could change the way law enforcement interacts with mental illness calls passed through the Senate on Monday.
The TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act aims to fund mental health training for first responders and crisis intervention teams so they can better understand how to act and react to individuals experiencing mental illnesses.
Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff proposed the bill with Sen. Chuck Grassley from Iowa.
Ossoff told 11Alive they hope the legislation will help better law enforcement's response to mental health calls.
“Communities in Georgia and across the country are struggling both with high rates of violent crime and also high rates of mental illness that's often untreated, and the response has to be one that both strengthens public safety through the training of law enforcement,” he said.
Additionally, training would teach law enforcement how to better recognize signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in individuals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these contribute to 3 million hospitalizations, emergency room visits and deaths each year.
“It'll also help to stand up crisis intervention teams that bring in mental health expertise where someone's having an acute mental health crisis and make sure that, more broadly, mental health care services in our communities are strengthened,'' Ossoff explained.
Through CDC research, the legislation requires a study that will look at law enforcement and first responders who may have suffered a traumatic brain injury in the line of duty.
The TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act is currently headed to President Joe Biden’s desk, where it could soon get signed into law.