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Mental wellness division to be created within Department of Public Safety

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s public safety community will soon have access to better mental health resources and support after the signing of Senate Bill 1613. Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, authored the bill directing the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to establish and maintain a mental wellness division within the agency to provide mental health services and programs to public safety personnel and their families.

“This legislation is the result of months of meetings with the state’s top public safety officials and law enforcement officers from around the state on how we can boost recruitment and retention. Having better access to mental health care was one of their main requests given the mental toll this line of work has on officers and their families,” David said. “This new division will provide the necessary support and resources for our state’s heroes and their loved ones dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, and mental exhaustion. I’m so proud and grateful for everyone’s support of this critical legislation to show these brave men and women we truly have their backs, and always will.”

SB 1613 will authorize the division to enter into public/private partnerships for services and will also establish a revolving fund and a not-for-profit foundation for fundraising.

The measure was recommended by the Unified State Law Enforcement Commission, which was created by David last session and highlighted as one of the governor’s top priorities for the 2022 legislative session. The commission consists of Oklahoma’s top public safety officials, including the DPS Commissioner, the directors of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDDC), the Public Safety cabinet secretary, the state Attorney General, and an appointee of the governor, Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker.

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols was the principal House author of the bill.

"The state-of-the-art mental wellness center we are hoping to build and fund through this legislation is needed by our heroes who serve in Oklahoma law enforcement," Echols said. "Those who work to keep us safe deserve all the care we can provide, particularly considering all that they see and experience on the front lines."

According to numerous studies, public safety officers and other first responders suffer from much higher rates of PTSD, suicide, divorce, depression, and addiction than the general public. The Ruderman Foundation found that 35% of officers have PTSD and 31% suffer from depression while only 7% of the public experience either. A 2018 National Fraternal Order of Police study reported that more than 16% of officers have had suicidal thoughts, over 65% have sleep problems or disorders and nearly 61% have intrusive or unwanted memories, including images, sounds and smells from the traumas they witness. The study also found that more than 52% of officers struggle with relationship problems. Over 90% report stigma keeps them from seeking treatment and they also believe the public does not understand the extreme stress of their profession.

The new law will go into effect 90 days after Sine Die adjournment.        


For more information, contact:  Sen. David: (405) 521-5590 or