fire truck 0060122SPRINGFIELD – Illinois now has a new law on the books to address the growing need for mental health services for first responders, thanks to State Senator Michael E. Hastings.

Hastings (D-Frankfort) sponsored House Bill 1321, which creates the First Responder Behavioral Health Grant Program to provide grants to municipalities, law enforcement agencies, fire protection and school districts, hospitals and ambulance services. It was signed into law on Friday.

“Every day our brave officers put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” Hastings said. “First responders across Illinois have difficult jobs and often find themselves in high stress situations. This new program will help provide municipalities and law enforcement agencies among many others offer better services for officers looking for the tools to check in on their mental health.”

Hastings championed this initiative to ensure that first responders, including police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and public safety telecommunicators across Illinois have full access to supportive and responsive behavioral health services and treatment.

“Officer wellness is the proper foundation for all things law enforcement,” Chief Mitchell R. Davis, from the Hazel Crest Police Department said. “Being proactive about ensuring that the well-being of those that see the unthinkable for a living is intact ensures that they are able to carry out their responsibilities in a way that is best for them, their families, and those that they serve. Thanks to Senator Hastings for being a proactive force in ensuring that mental wellness is a top priority and that effective resources are equitably accessible to all law enforcement officers in the State of Illinois.” 

During Hastings’ time in the Senate, he has supported various initiatives to fully fund law enforcement including this year’s budget which allocates funding for three state police cadet classes, the largest in state history, to hire and train 300 new troopers to address the rising need of law enforcement officers across the state, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area.

House Bill 1231 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.