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November 18, 2021

Rep. Trone Attends Police Peer Support Bill Signing at White House

Credit: Montgomery Community Media, Suzanne Pollak

U. S. Rep. David Trone (D-6) was at the White House Thursday to be with President Joe Biden as he signed into law a bipartisan bill designed to provide law enforcement officers with counseling services from a peer support specialist.

The bill, which Trone initiated and helped author, arose following the suicide of Montgomery County Police Officer Thomas J. Bomba in October 2019. Bomba, a 13-year-veteran of the county force, called for assistance while patrolling a parking garage in Downtown Silver Spring. When officers arrived, they found Bomba, who had shot himself.

The bill – Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act – was signed by Biden Thursday morning in the State Dining Room.

It sets forth requirements concerning peer support counseling and generally prohibits disclosure of communication between the counselor and law enforcement officer. It also requires the Department of Justice “to develop best practices and professional standards for peer support counseling programs.”

The bill was written “in response to the suicide of Montgomery County Officer T. J. Bomba,” Trone said. Following Bomba’s death, Trone convened a roundtable in Gaithersburg with Police Chief Marcus Jones, a representative from the National Institutes of Health mental health division and fire, police, emergency medical technicians and union members.

The results of that discussion helped Trone form the new law.

“The more we can take away the stigma, the better,” Trone said about mental illness.