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Aid Intended For Firefighters Undergoing Stress Disorders

This information is provided by the offiice of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties. He continues to summarize legislation passed in the last session of the State Legislature.

• Supporting firefighters suffering from PTSD - The Senate unanimously approved a law that seeks to reduce stigma and provide support for firefighters following a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.

The James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act allows a firefighter diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his or her service to receive resources through their workers’ compensation benefits plan.

The law establishes a grant program to mitigate the cost to an employer providing worker’s compensation for firefighters diagnosed with PTSD.

To qualify for the grant, employers must provide mental health awareness training as part of their continuing education program.

The law is named in honor of Captain James ‘Dustin’ Samples of the Cleveland Fire Department, who tragically committed suicide in 2020 after a years-long struggle with PTSD.

• Police Advisory Review Committee - A law imposes statewide standards on police review boards to ensure a fair review of citizens’ complaints while protecting individual rights of local law enforcement officers and allowing law enforcement to conduct fair and accurate investigations of crimes.

The law authorizes municipal governing bodies to create a police advisory review committee upon adoption of an ordinance by a two-thirds vote.

The committee will make recommendations concerning citizen complaints to the head of law enforcement. Committees will have seven members appointed by the mayor with approval by the governing body.

Police review boards, such as community oversight boards, can enhance transparency and accountability of police departments, but at times these boards have hindered rather than enhanced investigations.

• Expanding training compensation for EMS personnel - A law compensates emergency medical services personnel for completing training required by law. It gives an $800 supplement for emergency medical services personnel for completing a 40-hour training.

• Improving the hiring process for out of state law enforcement officers - A law will streamline the hiring process for out-of-state law enforcement officers seeking employment in Tennessee.

It provides flexibility to the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission to determine if an out-of-state officer's standards of certification meet Tennessee’s standards.

The law adds practical experience and education of an applicant certified in another state to the criteria evaluated by the POST Commission to determine if training in another state is comparable to the training programs in Tennessee.

The law also prohibits the POST Commission from certifying a person who has been decertified in another state due to criminal or other misconduct.

• Increasing background checks for professional bail agents - A law requires professional bail agents and bounty hunters to have an annual criminal history background check from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The bill requires agents and bounty hunters to take an annual education class, and requires a criminal background check prior to taking the class.

• Defining qualifying experience for parole officers - To become a parole officer, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or at least four years of qualifying professional experience. This law clarifies that law enforcement experience is sufficient to the requirement, thus allowing law enforcement personnel to become parole officers.

Ensuring deputy jailers can choose where they live - This law prohibits local governments from applying residency restrictions to jailers or correctional officers employed by local governments.

It also ensures people in those occupations can choose where they live, building off of a similar bill the General Assembly passed last year that pertains to law enforcement officers.

Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, or at 615-741-3100, or toll free ay 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN., 38462. He may be reached at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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