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November 25, 2021

President signs Trone’s COPS Act

Credit: The Garrett County Republican

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. David Trone’s Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act was signed into law by President Biden on Nov. 18.

The law will improve mental health care for first responders by creating more peer counseling programs and clear standards of confidentiality.

“This is a worthy victory in the fight to end the stigma surrounding mental health,” said Trone, D-Md. “Tragically, Officer Bomba’s story is not unique. Our first responders experience more trauma in one week than the average person does in a lifetime.

“The COPS Counseling Act ensures that every first responder has a safe space to deal with the stress and pressure of their jobs. The benefits of this legislation are two-fold: it will help our frontline officers access resources to improve their mental health, and it will certainly lead to better policing and safer communities. We must do right by our first responders and the legacy of Officer Bomba. This bill will do just that.

“Removing the stigma associated with mental health support is incredibly important to me. One of the most affected yet largely ignored communities is first responders, who experience more trauma in one week than the average person experiences in a lifetime. That’s why I introduced the COPS Counseling Act to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health support and make mental health resources more accessible. Through the improvement of confidentiality measures in peer support counseling, these programs can be a valued mental health resource for all officers in Garrett County,” Trone said.

Research shows that the vast majority of public safety officers view peer support as the most helpful mental health resource. Right now, many people don’t take advantage of this service due to confidentiality concerns. The COPS Counseling Act changes that by improving confidentiality measures in peer support programs. By prioritizing the mental health and well-being of our first responders, we are also prioritizing the safety of our whole community.

The COPS Counseling Act was written after the suicide of Montgomery County police officer Thomas “T.J.” Bomba in 2019. Following his death, Trone held a roundtable on improving mental health care for first responders to discuss how he could provide support, and the COPS Counseling Act was born. Now, just one month after the two-year anniversary of Bomba’s death, the bill was signed into law.