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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.35

Introduced by   Representatives Shand of Weathersfield, Brooks of Montpelier, Chen of Mendon, Donaghy of Poultney, Emmons of Springfield, Howrigan of Fairfield, Johnson of South Hero, Keenan of St. Albans City and Turner of Milton

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Public safety; emergency personnel; peer support sessions

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to prohibit the disclosure of information revealed by a participant in a counseling session conducted by a law enforcement agency or emergency services employer in order to provide emotional or moral support to a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel who require such services as a result of job-related stress.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF PEER SUPPORT COUNSELING SESSIONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND EMERGENCY PERSONNEL

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


Sec. 1.  20 V.S.A. chapter 183 is added to read:

CHAPTER 183.  PEER SUPPORT COUNSELING SESSIONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND EMERGENCY PERSONNEL

§ 3201.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Certified peer support member” means a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel who have received training in critical incident stress management and have been designated by a law enforcement agency or employer of emergency personnel as a critical incident stress management counselor.

(2)  “Emergency personnel” means:

(A)  Firefighters as defined in subdivision 3151(3) of this title;

(B)  Ambulance service, emergency medical, first responder service, and volunteer personnel as defined in section 2651 of Title 24.

(3)  "Law enforcement agency" means the department of public safety, a municipal police department, a sheriff's department, the attorney general's office, a state's attorney's office, or certified law enforcement officers of the department of motor vehicles, the agency of natural resources, or the department of liquor control.

(4)  “Law enforcement officer” means a sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, police officer, state's attorney, capitol police officer, motor vehicle inspector, state game warden, or state police officer.

(5)  “Peer support session” means any debriefing or counseling session conducted by a law enforcement agency or employer of emergency service personnel and by a supervised certified peer support member that involves the emotional or moral support of a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel who require such services as a result of job-related stress or an incident in which the law enforcement officer or emergency personnel were involved while acting in an official capacity.

§ 3202.  CONFIDENTIALITY OF PEER SUPPORT SESSIONS

(a)  Any oral or written communication made by a participant or certified peer support member during a peer support session shall be confidential, and a court shall not compel a participant in such a peer support session to testify concerning or disclose the contents or subject matter of any communication made during the peer support session.

(b)  Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to:

(1)  Any threat of suicide made by a participant in a peer support counseling session or any information conveyed in a peer support session relating to a threat of suicide;

(2)  Any threat to commit a crime or harmful act when the certified peer support member determines disclosure of such information is necessary to protect a person from a clear, imminent risk of mental or physical harm or injury or to prevent a serious threat to public safety;

(3)  Any admission of criminal conduct; or

(4)  Any information relating to abuse of children or the elderly.

(c)  Nothing in this section limits the discovery or introduction in evidence of information acquired by a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel from observation made during the course of employment that is otherwise subject to disclosure under section 317 of Title 1, discovery, or introduction to evidence.

§ 3203.  VIOLATIONS

Any person violating this chapter shall be fined not more than $1,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us