Durbin Joins Colleagues To Introduce New Bipartisan Bill To Help Reduce Police Officer Suicides

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to introduce a new bipartisan bill to track law enforcement suicides.  The Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act requires the FBI to collect voluntary, anonymous data on police suicides and attempted suicides from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.  Collecting this data will help inform policy solutions so that law enforcement suicides can be prevented.  The U.S. Department of Justice found that between 2013 and 2015, the Chicago Police Department had a suicide rate up to 60 percent higher than the national average for law enforcement officers.

“I am pleased to cosponsor this bipartisan bill to track law enforcement suicides in the hopes that they can be prevented,” Durbin said.  “Tragically, the Chicago Police Department has suffered eight officer suicides since July 2018.  We need data to help inform our policy solutions to this crisis, and this legislation will help to do just that.”

In the House of Representatives, companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Greg Steube (R-FL-17), and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04). 

Last year was the third straight year in which police suicides outnumbered line-of-duty deaths.  Law enforcement agencies across the country lost at least 167 officers to suicide in 2018.  Currently, there is no comprehensive government effort to track suicides and attempted suicides in law enforcement like there is for line-of-duty deaths.

Under the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act, participating law enforcement agencies will report information on suicides within their agency to the FBI, including:

  • Circumstances and events that occurred before each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Location of each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Demographic information of each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide;
  • Occupational category for each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide; and
  • Method used in each suicide or attempted suicide.

This bill also directs the FBI Director to submit an annual report on the data to Congress and publish the report on the FBI website.

This program would serve as the principal data collection tool on suicides and attempted suicides within law enforcement across the country.  By providing accurate and detailed information on these suicides and attempted suicides, more effective prevention programs could be implemented to save lives.

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in support of two bills cosponsored by Durbin that support local law enforcement, including the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act of 2019, which addresses the growing problem of law enforcement officer suicides by reauthorizing a grant program for law enforcement family support services and expanding the grants to cover mental health and suicide prevention efforts.