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Hawley bill to prevent police suicides heads to Trump’s desk after House passage

A bill sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley to prevent police officer suicides with expanded mental health services will head to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The bipartisan bill authorizes $7.5 million annually over the next five years for suicide prevention programs and other treatment to assist officers and their families.

Hawley, R-Missouri, introduced the legislation following a Kansas City police officer’s suicide in February. It passed the House by unanimous consent Wednesday afternoon after clearing the Senate without opposition in May.

It’s the first piece of legislation by the GOP freshman to pass both chambers and is expected to be signed by Trump in the near future.

“I’m thrilled that Congress passed my bipartisan legislation to support our men and women in law enforcement,” Hawley said in a statement. “These heroes show up every day to protect and serve our communities, so it’s important that we show up for them.”

Hawley’s Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said that the legislation will help “police officers deal strongly with what they must bear to keep their communities safe.”

Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith was a vocal supporter of the legislation, writing in The Star earlier this year that the legislation would enable the Kansas City Police Department to hire mental health professionals to treat officers.

“We work with medical doctors when our officers are physically hurt in the line of duty and arrange for their treatment,” Smith wrote in May. “Treatment for mental illnesses related to officers’ duties deserves just as much priority. Police cannot properly provide for the safety of our city if they are injured — physically or mentally.”

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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