The U.S. Senate last night unanimously passed the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act. The bill, authored by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would encourage the adoption of law enforcement peer counseling programs across the country and ensure that the information disclosed during peer support counseling sessions by federal law enforcement officers is kept confidential. The bill must now be passed by the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.
“Law enforcement officers across the country sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe and healthy, and they often endure challenging and traumatic situations in the process. Confidential peer counseling programs provide an important mental health outlet for these officers to share their experiences, decompress and receive guidance. This bill ensures officers have an opportunity to participate in peer counseling with the confidence that their privacy will be protected. I appreciate Sen. Cortez Masto’s leadership in this effort. The House should send this bill to President Biden’s desk right away,” Grassley said.
“Giving law enforcement officers across Nevada access to quality and confidential mental health counseling services will save lives, reduce the stigma of seeking help, and lead to better policing. I’m glad to see my bipartisan legislation pass the Senate and will continue working to provide law enforcement with the support they need to honorably serve their communities and stay healthy,” Cortez Masto said.
Modeled after Nevada’s confidentiality laws, the COPS Counseling Act would provide confidentiality to federal law enforcement officers who use peer counseling services, while excepting admissions of criminal conduct or threats of serious physical harm. The bill would also encourage first responder agencies to adopt peer counseling programs by requiring the DOJ to make best practices publicly available on its website and to provide a list of training programs for individuals to become peer support mentors.