This week, the new Healey-Driscoll administration announced a statewide grant program that was created by Massachusetts Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) that provides police officers across the Commonwealth with access to mental health services and peer support.

Montigny worked with law enforcement officers Detective Rob Swartz and Officer Hank Turgeon to launch the program in 2018 following the death of Sergeant Sean Gannon, a Yarmouth officer and New Bedford native who was killed in the line of duty.

The new grant funding builds on the success of Montigny's 2018 pilot program, which provided $100,000 to the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council to provide mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention services.

Montigny's program will now include up to $1 million in grants to law enforcement agencies across Massachusetts. The grants will assist in providing officers with critical incident stress management training, and mental health resources.

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According to a press release from Montigny's office, when the program launched in 2018 he worked with Millbury Senator Michael Moore to provide legal protections for the confidentiality of officers who sought to access mental health services.

The confidentiality protections was a critical step, Montigny's office said, because many officers had declined to seek help due to fear that they would not be viewed favorably for certain promotions or other career advancements.

Montigny says that this program will provide officers with the essential mental health services they need and he credited his partners in law enforcement for helping getting the program off the ground.

“The dedicated men and women who keep our communities safe too often hide the significant stress and trauma they incur from the job,” said Montigny. “Every officer in the Commonwealth must have access to quality mental health services and peer support to combat this stigma, improve policing, and enhance the lives of our police and their families. Detective Rob Swartz and Officer Hank Turgeon have been incredible advocates and I thank them for their partnership in the creation of this life-saving program alongside the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.”

The Massachusetts Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) thanked Montigny as well as Kingston Rep. Kathleen LaNatra for their steadfast advocacy in ensuring mental health access for law enforcement officers.

"The Massachusetts Fraternal Order of Police would like to thank Senator Mark Montigny for his unsolicited assistance and support over the last several years." Said Mass FOP President Todd Bramwell. "His advocacy on behalf of police officers’ mental and physical wellness has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Senator Montigny has been a longtime supporter of the SEMLEC Regional Peer Support team. He played a significant role in ensuring that peer support members have confidentiality while in the performance of their important work. Thanks to his hard work and support officers throughout the state have mandatory access to peer support as well as mandated training."

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