This story was updated on Nov. 22, 2021, to add details from the bill signing.
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed U.S. Rep. David Trone’s bill to ensure confidential counseling for law enforcement officers. The law came about following the suicide of a Montgomery County police officer two years ago.
Trone (D-Potomac.) introduced the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act last year. The law “prohibits the disclosure of the contents of a peer support communication” and requires the Department of Justice to develop best practices for counseling.
The COPS Act does not require confidentiality for:
- A threat or attempt of suicide
- A threat of the person to harm or kill someone else
- An admission of criminal conduct
- Information about the abuse or neglect of a child or other vulnerable person
Trone, who represents Maryland’s 6th District, introduced the bill after Officer T.J. Bomba died by suicide on Oct. 14, 2019, on top of a parking garage in downtown Silver Spring.
Congress passed the COPS Act last month and Biden signed it on Thursday. Bomba’s relatives attended the signing ceremony.
According to People magazine, Bomba’s widow, Angela, was there, with her sons Tommy and Jake.
As shown in this video clip (starting at about 12:35) posted by by WSLS of Roanoke, Va., Biden chatted with 7-year-old Jake, then gave him the pen Biden used to sign the bill.
Trone said in an emailed statement that after holding a roundtable with mental health experts and first responders following Bomba’s death, he was inspired to do something to prevent similar tragedies.
“I am grateful that the new law, the COPS Counseling Act, will improve mental health care for public safety officers. From now on, our first responders will have greater access to mental health treatment options,” he said in the statement.
Trone said in a separate statement that his legislation “ensures that every first responder has a safe space to deal with the stress and pressure of their jobs.”
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email from Bethesda Beat seeking comment Thursday.
In a statement on the White House’s website, Biden thanked all of the legislators involved in the passage of the COPS Act.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org