Readout of Roundtable with Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and State and Local Law Enforcement Leaders
In honor of Police Week, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday with various leaders from state and local law enforcement to discuss the importance of health and wellness.
Deputy Attorney General Monaco opened the discussion by thanking everyone for their partnership in this area and reiterating the department’s commitment to the health and wellness of those in law enforcement. Associate Attorney General Gupta acknowledged how the weight of the pandemic has been borne by so many communities, including first responders and law enforcement professionals. Throughout the discussion, the department’s leadership emphasized the importance of having meaningful and honest conversations about mental health and meeting the needs of those who work and serve our communities under tremendous stress. They described some of the heartrending trends of officer suicide, and recognized the tireless work of those in attendance to address officer wellness.
Moderating the discussion was Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Acting Director Robert Chapman, who spoke about the office’s commitment to engaging the law enforcement community in order to better understand their needs. He also noted that the COPS Office announced $7 million in mental health and wellness grant funding for law enforcement. Those in attendance also shared recommendations on ways the department could better support law enforcement on these issues.
Associate Deputy Director Vince Davenport of the department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) spoke about BJA’s commitment to funding, training and supporting law enforcement across health and wellness topics. For instance, he discussed the recent release of BJA’s COVID-19 toolkit for law enforcement.
Themes throughout the hour-long discussion ranged from the impact that COVID-19 has had on law enforcement and the need to fund mental health and wellness programs for not just sworn officers but professional staff and prosecutors, as well; to the need for investment in long-term sustainable care, such as counseling and therapy, to providing better training specific to mental and physical health to leadership. Deputy Attorney General Monaco and Associate Attorney General Gupta closed by emphasizing that officer wellness is a top priority across the federal government and pledged the department’s full support to improving the wellbeing of law enforcement professionals, their loved ones and the communities they serve.