Dawkins to introduce legislation requiring PTSD testing for law enforcement

HARRISBURG, Aug. 29 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today said he is currently seeking co-sponsors for his legislation that would assist with maintaining the mental health of law enforcement officers in the commonwealth.

The legislation would require police officers to undergo Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder evaluations every other year and within 30 days of an incident in which lethal force is used.

“Being in law enforcement is a very demanding and stressful job. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day to keep our families and communities safe,” Dawkins said. “That demand can certainly take a toll on a police officer mentally and with dangerous consequences.”

Dawkins noted there are numerous incidents that can cause PTSD in police officers, such as hostage situations, dangerous drug busts, fatal crashes, and other cases that involve serious injury or death to the people involved in the incident. Other stressful situations that could trigger PTSD include working long hours, handling people’s attitudes, waiting for the next call and not knowing how the situation will play out, and even politics within the police department.

“While many of these factors seem to be a part of the job, the repeated exposure can be unhealthy for a police officer,” Dawkins said. “Many times, they suffer in silence and rein in their own emotions to serve the community.

“By requiring our law enforcement to undergo PTSD evaluation under my proposed legislation, we are giving them the tools they need to deal with that illness.”

Dawkins added the required testing would contribute to the safety of communities by ensuring officers are not serving with dangerous symptoms of PTSD such as insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, recurring nightmares, anxiety, depression, numbness, or fear for their own safety.