By Karhlton F. Moore, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance
Officer safety and wellness cuts across many of the challenges facing law enforcement today. In 2021, the suicide rate was 45 percent higher among law enforcement professionals than the general U.S. population, according to data from First H.E.L.P. and the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s a pressing and critical issue that not only impacts the well-being of law enforcement officers, but also the safety of our communities.
This month, BJA staff members and I attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego. It was a welcome opportunity to hear directly from law enforcement about the challenges in recruiting and retaining officers and about the laudable efforts to increase their safety and well-being.
Ensuring the well-being and safety of law enforcements officers is a priority at BJA. That’s why it is at the heart of this month’s edition of Justice Matters. Our Feature story and Success story spotlight how law enforcement departments are addressing the physical and mental well-being of their officers and illustrate how BJA programs can play a role in increasing officers’ mental, physical, and psychological health.
BJA has provided more than $11.5 million in grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies since fiscal year 2022 to support programs focused on officer well-being. These grants are provided through the Officer Robert Wilson III Preventing Violence Against Law Enforcement Officers and Ensuring Officer Resilience and Survivability (VALOR) Initiative, a multifaceted effort to save lives through:
- VALOR Officer Safety and Wellness Program (VALOR Program)
- National Suicide Awareness for Law Enforcement Officers (SAFLEO) Program
- Law Enforcement Agency and Officer Resilience Training Program
- National Law Enforcement Roadway Safety (NLERS) Program
These programs are making a real difference for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
We hope these stories encourage you. We also hope that you will think about applying for funding from one of these programs when BJA’s fiscal year 2024 solicitations are released.
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call 988 -or- Text "BLUE" to 741741
You are not alone. We need you. You matter!