Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden supports legislation to increase school safety

March 23, 2018
Press Release

Greg Walden supports legislation to increase school safety

Highlights action taken to improve mental health care and strengthen school security

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) released the following statement in regards to legislation to increase school safety and improve the nation’s mental health care system:

“No child should feel unsafe in their school. We have to take steps to get at the root causes of acts of violence in our schools. That is why I voted for the landmark 21st Century Cures Act to make significant reforms to our mental health care system and make sure tools are available to get care to children who need it at school and in our communities. We also need to fill the gaps in our federal background check system that allows people with mental health disorders, criminal records, and violent pasts to purchase firearms. Twice in the last year, I have supported legislation that is now law to make sure the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) program actually works and keeps firearms away from truly dangerous people.”

Walden has a strong record of supporting commonsense legislation to address the root causes of gun violence in Oregon and throughout the country. As a representative in the Oregon Legislature in 1989, Walden voted in favor of Oregon House Bill 3470, which regulated the sale of handguns to keep them out of the hands of those who should not have access.

Given that approximately 80% of students who commit a violent act tell someone beforehand, it is important that students and schools have a mechanism in place to improve reporting, so these issues can be addressed before violence occurs. Last week, Walden supported the STOP School Violence Act, which provides tools for schools to develop reporting systems, and also crisis intervention teams to help respond to warning signs of violence. This legislation recently passed into law.

Additionally, Walden helped pass the landmark 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2016. The mental health reforms included in the 21st Century Cures Act represented the most significant reforms to the mental health system in more than a decade. 

From improving mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance, to strengthening community crisis response systems, to developing school-based mental health crisis intervention teams including specialized training for school officials, to active shooter training programs for law enforcement, the 21st Century Cures Act made significant strides in this area and many of these programs are just now coming online. 

Below are summaries of the sections of the 21st Century Cures Act most relevant to current discussions around mental health: 

Active-shooter training for law enforcement (Sec. 14011)

• Permanently authorizes the existing Department of Justice VALOR Initiative, which provides crisis response training and active-shooter training for federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

• FY2018 Funding: $10,000,000 (included within Sec. 14001 program funding)

Develop and operate mental health crisis intervention teams (Sec. 14010)

• Amends the Department of Justice program to allow state and local governments to use existing grant funds to develop and operate school-based mental health crisis intervention teams that include coordination with law enforcement agencies and specialized training for school officials.

• FY2018 Funding: $75,000,000 to the STOP School Violence Act (previously the Secure our Schools program)

Providing support and recovery care for children recovering from trauma (Sec. 10004)

• Reauthorizes the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), which supports a national network of child trauma centers, including university, hospital, and community-based centers and affiliate members.

• Supports the coordinating center’s collection, analysis, and reporting of child outcome and other data to inform evidence-based treatments and services. Also supports the continuum of training initiatives related to such evidence-based treatments, interventions, and practices offered to providers.

• Reauthorizes appropriations at the last appropriated level of $46.9 million for each of fiscal years 2018-2022.

• FY2018 Funding: $53,887,000

Provide specialized programs for children with serious emotional disturbances (SED) (Sec. 10001)

• Reauthorizes and updates programs to provide comprehensive community mental health services to children with SED.

• Reauthorizes appropriations at the last appropriated level of $119,026,000 for fiscal years 2018-2022.

• FY2018 Funding: $125,000,000

Divert those with mental illnesses to community-based services (Sec. 9002)

• Reauthorizes and makes technical updates to develop and implement programs to divert individuals with a mental illness from the criminal justice system to community-based services.

• Reauthorizes appropriations at the last appropriated level of $4,269,000 for each of fiscal years 2018-2022.

• FY2018 Funding: $4,269,000

Enable law enforcement to use grants for mental health programs (Sec. 14001)

• Amends the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program to allow law enforcement to use funds for the creation of mental health response and corrections programs, including police crisis intervention teams. Also allows state and local governments to use Byrne JAG funds in order to comply with current laws requiring the upload of certain mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

• Amends the Community Oriented Policing Services Grant Program (COPS) to allow law enforcement to use funds for specialized mental health response training, including crisis de-escalation.

• Amends the Fire Prevention and Control Act to allow existing grant funds to be used for training first responders and paramedics on best practices for responding to mental health emergencies, including crisis de-escalation.

• FY2018 Funding: $416,000,000

Increase access to Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs (Sec. 14002)

• Allows federal mental health court grant funds to be used for the creation of court-ordered outpatient treatment programs to prevent the escalation of mental health crises.

• FY2018 Funding: $15,000,000

Boost resources for mentally ill individuals in the judicial system (Sec. 14004)*

• Amends the America’s Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project Act to allow state and local governments to use funds for the creation and deployment of behavioral health risk and needs assessments for mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system.

Allow state and local governments to use grants for treatment initiatives pertaining to the criminal justice system (Sec. 14005)*

• Amends the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction (MIOTCRA) to allow state and local governments to use existing authorized grant funds for the operation of Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Initiatives. FACT Initiatives provide high-intensity community-based services for individuals with mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system.

Create the National Criminal Justice and Mental Health Training Center (Sec. 14014)*

• Amends MIOTCRA to allow the Attorney General to use existing authorized funds to award grants to non-profit organizations for the creation of a National Criminal Justice and Mental Health Training Center. This entity would coordinate best practices on responding to mental illness in the criminal justice system, and would provide technical assistance to governmental agencies who wish to implement these best practices.

Improve existing DoJ data on mental illness involved in crime (Sec. 14015)*

• Requires the Attorney General to collect and disseminate data regarding the involvement of mental illness in all homicides, as well as deaths or serious bodily injuries involving law enforcement officers.

Expanded training for law enforcement (Sec. 14024)*

• Authorizes resources for expanded training activities, providing more officers with a basic understanding of the issues involved when responding situations with individuals with mental health crises.

Creation of additional training for federal law enforcement (Sec. 14025)*

• Requires the Attorney General to create programs that offer federal first responders and tactical units comprehensive training in procedures to identify and respond appropriately to incidents involving mentally ill individuals.

*The FY2018 Consolidated Appropriations Bill included an additional $30,000,000 for mental health programs without further specificity, from which these programs could receive funding.

Strengthen community response systems (Sec. 9007)

• Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to state and local governments, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations to strengthen community-based crisis response systems or to develop, maintain, or enhance a database of beds at inpatient psychiatric facilities, crisis stabilization units, and residential community mental health and residential substance use disorder treatment facilities.

• Authorizes the appropriation of $12.5 million for the period of fiscal years 2018-2022.

Expand the National Violent Death Reporting System (Sec. 9013)

• Encourages the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve, particularly through the inclusion of other states, the existing National Violent Death Reporting System.

• The reporting system was created in 2002 and currently collects surveillance data from 32 states.

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