Shaheen Calls on AG Barr to Explain Delay in Delivering Police Suicide Report to Congress

May 15, 2020

**Shaheen’s request comes as communities across the nation celebrate Police Week and honor law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice (DOJ), called on Attorney General William Barr to explain the Department’s delay in submitting a report to Congress which is mandated by legislation that Senator Shaheen authored to collect and report data on police suicides. The report on the DOJ’s plan to accomplish this data collection was required by law to be submitted by March 19, 2020. Shaheen’s request comes as communities across the nation celebrate Police Week and honor law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty.

“As there is no comprehensive national data collection regarding police suicides, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) was directed to maintain a data set and report on police suicides for Federal, State, and local law enforcement in order to better understand the full scope of this issue and determine death rates and other trends in order to inform law enforcement agencies, lawmakers and the public on how to prevent, intervene and improve responses to suicide,” wrote Senator Shaheen. “The coronavirus pandemic has only increased stress and uncertainty for law enforcement officers who have experienced increased calls for assistance, possible job loss and the deaths of loved ones and colleagues to COVID-19. The time is past due for a data collection by [Bureau of Justice Statistics] BJS on law enforcement suicide.” 

record number of U.S. law enforcement officers died by suicide last year according to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to reduce mental health stigmas for police.

Shaheen has been a leader in addressing the mental health crisis among law enforcement and first responders. As the lead Democrat on Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen secured funds to improve mental health services for state and local law enforcement agencies, including resources to reduce stigmas around officers seeking mental health treatment and programs to assist officers in handling repeated exposure to stress and trauma while on the job.

In January, Shaheen attended the President’s State of the Union Address with Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan, who, following the suicide of Nashua Police Captain John Lehto, bravely chose to shine a spotlight on the crisis of police suicide with Captain Lehto’s family.

The full text of the letter is available here.