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Senator Hassan Hears from NH Law Enforcement, First Responders About Protecting Public Health and Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

To watch Senator Hassan’s opening remarks, click here.

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today held a virtual roundtable discussion with New Hampshire law enforcement officials and first responders about the impact of COVID-19 on their efforts to protect public health and safety.


“I really wanted to check in with public safety leaders from around the state to thank you for everything you're doing during an extraordinary and unprecedented time in our state and our country's history,” Senator Hassan said. “I know that you and your members put yourselves at risk every single day to keep the rest of us safe. I am always grateful for that commitment and that service, I have never been more grateful than I am right now. I also know that as we grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, you and your members are on the front lines and you are meeting particular challenges that really complicate the work you do.”


During the call, Senator Hassan heard from public safety officials about their budgetary concerns. “Quite frankly, now is not the time to start cutting emergency police, fire, EMS, and public health,” said Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner.


Senator Hassan echoed these concerns, discussing her push for additional direct funding to state and local communities and flexibility to use this funding to address budget shortfalls so that states do not have to make cuts to public safety or other critical services.


Grafton County Sheriff Jeff Stiegler also noted the increase in mental health cases in his region: "I've noticed a very large wave of - a spike if you will - in mental health cases. And I am wondering, are people not able to get to the resources that they need, or the resources to get to them, that are going through these crises?”


Senator Hassan acknowledged that this was an important issue and discussed the need to continue to expand telehealth services in order to support mental and behavioral health as Granite Staters continue to stay home when they can amid the pandemic.


Senator Hassan recently joined the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in announcing that New Hampshire received $147 million in additional funding as a result of the CARES Act that was signed into law last month, which included $4.4 million in additional funding to support law enforcement as they respond to COVID-19. The Senator also joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in calling for a strong, coordinated federal effort to address the national shortage of personal protective equipment for front line workers including police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs.