New Law To Address Police Officers' Mental Health

Aug 17, 2018

Illinois police officers who want to seek mental health care can now do so without jeopardizing their jobs.

Governor Bruce Rauner Friday signed into law a measure that eliminates the job requirement of a Firearms Owners Identification Card when the card is temporarily revoked due to mental health treatment.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said he hopes the new law helps combat the stigma around mental health care. "Police are normal people who have normal lives, who go through trauma just like everyone else—and when they see a traumatic situation, they worry about possibly losing their jobs. So this is a positive step forward," he said. 

Several groups worked with Sen. Cullerton and others in the legislature to get the measure to the governor's desk. Among them was the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council -- a police officer union. 

Tamara Cummings,  general counsel for the group, said the new law is long overdue and hopes more officers seek treatment. 

Cummings said the measure does not apply to those officers who present a danger to themselves or others, and it also does not restrict an employer from weighing in on an officer's fitness to serve. An officer can be placed in administrative positions, instead of being penalized,  while undergoing mental health treatment.