Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following remarks, as prepared, on the House floor in support of S. 2746, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act:
"Madam Speaker – I rise in strong support of S. 2746, the 'Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act,' which requires the FBI to establish a data collection program that gathers data on law enforcement and former law enforcement suicides at the local, state, and federal level.
"We consider this bill today in response to a growing epidemic of law enforcement suicides in America. Tragically, more than 227 U.S. law enforcement officers took their own lives in 2019, an increase of more than 50 deaths from the year before. While law enforcement officers are tasked with the responsibility of protecting our communities and responding to often-dangerous emergency situations, the number who have died as a result of suicide has, in recent years, exceeded the number of officers lost in the line of duty.
"My community has been particularly affected by this issue. Last year, the New York Police Department lost nine officers in a deeply troubling string of suicides. With long, late hours, regular traumatic experiences, life-threatening situations, and work in constant proximity to firearms, law enforcement officers are at an increased risk for mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. A number of reports over past decades indicate that law enforcement officers have an increased risk of suicide when compared to the general public.
"While suicide is currently the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers, the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in this country lack a unified reporting mechanism for collecting data on these tragedies.
"Without the proper information and statistics, law enforcement agencies and local, state, and federal leaders are hindered in their ability to educate, prevent, and respond to this epidemic of suicides.
"This bill directs the FBI to establish the Law Enforcement Officers Suicide Data Collection Program to prevent future suicide and to promote the understanding of suicide in law enforcement by collecting information from Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Data allowed to be collected pursuant to this bill includes details relating to both suicides and attempted suicides, including the circumstances and location of each event, as well as demographic information of each law enforcement officer, and the method used in each incident.
"It is imperative that the law enforcement community, mental health professionals, Congress, and the American people better understand the extent of, and the reasons for, this crisis. The bill, therefore, also requires public reporting of the FBI’s findings so that Congress and others can best support state and local agencies grappling with the day-to-day consequences of officer suicide.
"I am grateful for the bipartisan effort to address this important issue. In the House, our colleague, Representative Mike Quigley, authored H.R. 3735, the companion to this Senate-passed bill. I commend him, and the bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, for their tireless work on behalf of law enforcement officers and their loved ones.
"I support this bill and I urge my colleagues to do the same."
"Madam Speaker, we appreciate the service of our law enforcement officers, who face unique challenges and risks in protecting us every day.
"Today we take an important step to recognize the psychological toll that serving in such an inherently dangerous job can take on law enforcement officers, and work to combat the tragic epidemic of suicides among their ranks.
"I ask that my colleagues join me in supporting the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act so that we may be better able to address this crisis and save lives.
"Throughout our country, police officers execute their jobs with dignity, honor and respect for the citizens they serve and protect. But I would be remiss if I did not take note of the alarming and appalling incidents involving individuals in law enforcement over the last few weeks.
"These include the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota, both at the hands of law enforcement officers, and the disturbing circumstances surrounding the death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
"We must bring all those responsible to justice and work to improve accountability between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
"My friends, we can’t hide from America’s history of racism and its deadly consequences. We see it in the disproportionate rates of COVID deaths, in our country’s rates of mass incarceration, and yes, in the treatment of African-Americans by some of our police officers.
"The ugly truth is clear: black Americans live under different rules. It’s up to all of us to change them.
"Working with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and with Members of Congress from all across the country, I will continue to fight to do so.
"Thank you. I yield back the balance of my time."