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Abrams, Baldridge testify on Peer Support Legislation

Published By The People's Defender on November 26, 2022
Cindy Abrams In The News

State Representatives Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) recently testified on their joint legislation to create privileged peer support for first responders and law enforcement.

“Our first responders put both their lives and mental health on the line every day,” Abrams said. “This bill will give these men and women a level of comfort to confide in their fellow peer support team members. This is about protecting the men and women who protect us.”

Under the bill, privileged peer support would prohibit a peer support team member from testifying concerning a communication received from an individual receiving peer support services or the team member’s advice to an individual receiving the services.

The support services would be administered by individuals currently or formerly employed as a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical worker, or corrections officer. Dispatchers and civilian employees of entities that employ the outlined professionals may also qualify. Experience in the field is necessary due to the guidance the legislation would allow, which includes emotional, social, or practical knowledge and experience with navigating resources pertaining to mental health.

Baldridge noted the positive impact peer support services can have on the first responders who receive them.

“Offering peer support to our first responders gives them a trustworthy outlet to effectively express their thoughts and emotions,” Baldridge said. “These are not easy jobs by any means, so we have to do our part in supporting these individuals.”

House Bill 545 now awaits its second hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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