Donnelly, Young push for bill to bring better mental health programs to officers

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Protecting those who protect us is the goal of new legislation being introduced by both Indiana United States Senators, and it’s getting support from first responders.

The legislation is called the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and it comes more then a year after a mother and her four-year-old son were found shot to death by a family member inside their Zionsville home. It happened in 2016. Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen was there.

“The scene that day was one of heartbreak, sorrow, disbelief anger mixed with sheer determination to find out who committed this horrible act.” Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said

The shooter would later take his own life in a downtown Indianapolis hotel and the case was closed. But for Sheriff Nielsen and his daughter, Lebanon Police Officer Taylor Nielsen, the impact and the imagery would never go away.

Taylor Nielsen was the lead crime scene investigator that day. Nielsen said the PTSD she experienced drove her to contemplate suicide and she knew she needed help.

“I have learned that it’s not about being emotionally strong or able, it’s about being willing to seek help and deal with our bodies normal responses to abnormal situations,” Officer Nielsen said.

If passed the bill would allow law enforcement agencies to use federal funding to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, similar to a program that IMPD currently has.

“It directs the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop resources for mental heath providers so that they can better understand the needs of our men and women who are on the streets every day,” Sen. Joe Donnelly said.

That way on their worst days and in their worst moments, law enforcement officers know they can seek help.

“Please don’t be afraid to seek out those resources, the battle can be hard buy it can be won. I am a warrior, I have overcome. This what I now tell my self every single day,” Officer Nielsen added.

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