This week Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) hosted her second Law Enforcement Advisory Board meeting with officers from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Westminster, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach Police Departments. Rep. Steel launched the advisory board in May during National Police Week. The officers joined Rep. Steel for lunch to discuss rising crime, and particularly focused on the Mental Health Justice Act (H.R. 1368), which Rep. Steel is leading in Congress with Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45). As Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, in 2020 Rep. Steel introduced a resolution to make August 11th “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” in Orange County.
“I am grateful to our law enforcement officers every day for the service and bravery they bring to our community. I’m proud to be the only Republican leading the Mental Health Justice Act in Congress, which would give officers more resources to respond to emergency calls and mental health crises. I look forward to continuing these conversations with this trusted group of leaders,” said Rep Steel.
“I appreciate Congresswoman Steel’s support of legislation that empowers law enforcement to meet our mission. Proposals like the Mental Health Justice Act will enable us to focus on our primary responsibility of addressing crime, not social issues,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.
The Mental Health Justice Act would:
- Create a grant program to pay for hiring, training, salary, benefits and additional expenses for mental health provider first responder units. Mental health professionals would be dispatched to emergencies that involve people with behavioral health needs.
- Allow law enforcement to focus their resources on addressing violations of criminal law, responding to emergency calls for service, and proactively preventing crime.
In Congress, Rep. Steel is also a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, introduced by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), a former police officer. This legislation would:
Increase the number of body cameras.
Emphasize community reflective recruitment, ensuring the makeup of police departments more closely resemble the communities they serve.
Restore investment in community policing, helping to build trust between officers and the communities they serve.
Invest in improved police training, with an emphasis on de-escalation and duty to intervene.