On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a package of public safety legislation, including two bills related to mental health and violence prevention. The House voted 223 to 206 to pass the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022 (H.R. 8542), which would authorize $250 million in grants to states, tribal entities, and local governments to train and dispatch mental health professionals instead of law enforcement to respond to emergencies that involve people with behavioral health needs. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act (H.R. 4118) passed by a vote of 220 to 207, and would establish federal grant programs to invest in evidence-based community violence intervention initiatives in communities disproportionately impacted by homicides and community violence. The bill would also create a grant program for organizations and local governments to provide job training and workforce programs in communities disproportionately affected by gun violence to connect youth ages 16 to 24 to in-demand occupations.
The House also passed two other bills related to policing. The chamber overwhelmingly approved, 360 to 64, the Invest to Protect Act of 2022 (H.R. 6448), which would authorize $50 million in grants for local or tribal governments that employ fewer than 200 law enforcement officers for equipment and programs including, body cameras, de-escalation training, recruitment, and retention. The House voted 250 to 178 on the VICTIM Act of 2022 (H.R. 5768), which would establish a grant program to hire victim support personnel, and to hire, train, and retain detectives to investigate violent crimes. All four bills passed by the House will now go to the Senate for consideration.
NACCHO recognizes injury and violence as public health issues and supports legislation to reduce the impact of violence and address the disproportionate burden in certain communities. NACCHO also recognizes police violence as a public health issue and contributor to ongoing health inequities across populations and communities. NACCHO, through its health equity programs and workgroups, has a long-standing commitment to strengthening local health departments’ capacity as they confront the root causes of health inequity through principles of social justice in everyday practice.