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May 05, 2020

MCPD officer suicide inspires national bill to improve police mental health services

Credit: Montgomery Community Media, Grace Mottley

In response to the suicide of Montgomery County Police Officer Thomas J. Bomba, Rep. David Trone (MD-6) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) have proposed a bill to provide police officers with better mental health services.

Bomba’s death in October 2019 was ruled the result of a self-inflicted injury. After the event, Trone, the representative for parts of Montgomery County, held a roundtable to discuss the stigma attached to getting help for mental health issues within the law enforcement community.

The Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act would increase privacy protections for officers in peer counseling programs by creating clear standards for confidentiality. By increasing standards for confidentiality amongst support groups and peer counseling, officers will feel safer about coming forward with mental health concerns, according to Trone.

“By providing confidentiality for peer support services like we do in the COPS Counseling Act, we can begin to remove the stigma that exists surrounding mental health,” Trone said in a statement.

The legislation has been praised by Marcus Jones, the Chief of Police for Montgomery County. Jones wrote a letter of support to Trone on April 30.

“Our officers encounter stressful situations every day, and that stress has only increased in the COVID-19 environment,” Jones said in a statement. “I appreciate Congressman Trone listening and prioritizing the mental health of our first responder community and making it more accessible for law enforcement to access the treatment they need in order to continue to serve their community.”

The House Judiciary Committee will review the legislation before it is voted on in the House of Representatives.