HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday delivered keynote remarks for “Preventing Death by Suicide: A Chief-to-Chief Leadership Wellness Discussion,” hosted by the National Law Enforcement Museum.
According to Blue HELP, there have been 869 officer suicides in the United States since 2016.
Spanberger — a former federal law enforcement officer — spoke about the need to prioritize mental health resources for law enforcement in Central Virginia and across the country. Additionally, she discussed the need to protect those who serve and provide assistance to families of those who have been killed in the line of duty. In Congress, Spanberger has supported the reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, which was signed into law by President Trump, and she has cosponsored the Heroes Lesley Zerebny and Gilbert Vega First Responders Survivors Support Act, which would strengthen support for the families of fallen first responders, law enforcement officers, and firefighters.
“As the daughter of a career law enforcement officer — and as a federal law enforcement officer for the U.S. Postal Service, I admire individuals who dedicate their careers to public service and keeping our communities safe and secure. As the representative for Virginia’s Seventh District, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of these men and women who’ve answered the call to serve their fellow Americans,” said Spanberger. “I believe it is my responsibility to provide these individuals with the support and resources they need to fulfill their duties responsibly, professionally, and safely. On Capitol Hill, I’ve taken action on this belief by supporting initiatives to improve the safety of law enforcement officers across our country and advocate for justice for those families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.”
Spanberger continued, “Additionally, a failure to invest in community services like mental health and social services increasingly leaves police in the position of stepping in as crisis counselors for those on the edge — a job they did not train for. A failure to fund these services not only means that those needing mental health services may not be able to get the help they need; it also places undue stress on our local law enforcement officers and strains the resources of our departments. I’d like to thank the National Law Enforcement Museum for hosting today’s important discussion, and I look forward to keeping up the fight to reduce death by suicide among officers and provide our law enforcement and their families with the resources and support they deserve.”
Recently, Spanberger cosponsored the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Law Enforcement Protection Act, which would make sure that individuals who harm or attempt to harm U.S. federal law enforcement officers serving abroad can be brought to justice and prosecuted in the United States.
The National Law Enforcement Museum’s discussion explored prevention programs and gave attendees the opportunity to address suicide prevention by engaging law enforcement leadership in their strategies and best practices. During the event, law enforcement chiefs from across the United States discussed how to equip peer chiefs with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop a true leadership culture that is compassionate and empathetic on all mental health issues. Click here to learn more about the discussion.
Click here to watch her full remarks.