Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

April 19, 2022

Appropriations Committee Votes to Support Mental Health Initiatives in Police Work, Expanded Workers’ Compensation for Dispatchers

Police to receive additional training and mental health support

Today, the Appropriations Committee voted in support of legislation bolstering mental health initiatives both for police officers working in the field and police officers needing care themselves. One piece of legislation receiving support extends workers’ compensation coverage to police dispatchers in addition to police officers and firefighters; the other increases both protections for police officers regarding mental health and seeks to improve police relations with individuals with mental health issues.

State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), a member of the Appropriations Committee and sponsor of the workers’ compensation bill, voted to approve both pieces of legislation today.

“In recent years, the increased consideration of mental health needs for police and policing alike has benefitted our society,” said Sen. Anwar. “By reducing the stigma of mental health issues among officers and changing their approach to dealing with members of the public with mental health concerns, our state can further improve our standards both to ensure officers receive the care they need without question or judging and that members of the public will receive aid in a manner that will be safe and effective regarding their individual needs.”

House Bill 5420, “An Act Concerning Mental Health Needs Of and Services For Police Officers, Certain Requirements Regarding Police Training and Certain Reports,” makes several changes to law enforcement and related agencies, mainly about mental health, including:

  • Extending existing employment protections to police officers seeking or receiving mental health care services after required behavioral health assessments
  • Creating training on interacting with people with mental or physical disabilities or who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind, which will replace current standards of contact
  • Providing $100,000 of grants to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which will be given to nonprofit organizations providing police officer crisis intervention training
  • Creating a task force to study officer mental health needs
  • Studying a sample of 911 calls and analyzing which would be more appropriately handled through 211

House Bill 5251, “An Act Concerning Workers’ Compensation For Dispatchers,” extends “portal-to-portal” workers’ compensation coverage to 911 emergency dispatchers when they’re responding to a direct order to work when normally excused from working or after working two or more mandatory overtime shifts on consecutive days. “Portal-to-portal” coverage sees injury occurring while an employee is traveling from their home to their workplace having occurred in the course of employment; this would be extended to dispatchers from current law’s provision of standards for police officers, firefighters and Department of Corrections employees.

Both bills were unanimously approved by the Public Safety and Security Committee before their approval by the Appropriations Committee today. They proceed to the House for further consideration.