GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois held a roundtable discussion in Granite City Monday. She focused on the future of law enforcement and the new 'Public Safety Officer Support Act,' which President Biden signed into law last week.
Sen. Duckworth said one of her main goals is to prioritize the mental health of public safety officers. This new law focuses on supporting any officers facing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and families of officers lost to suicide following any sort of trauma.
Duckworth said she wants officers to feel like they can get additional benefits, too.
"If they develop post traumatic stress, it is because of their jobs," she said. "They don't have to prove it was because of their jobs so they can get the help they need."
She was joined by many public safety leaders at Granite City City Hall Tuesday, including the city's Mayor, Mike Parkinson. Parkinson shared many public safety officials are still recovering from the loss of Officer Tyler Timmins last year.
Timmins was shot and killed while approaching a suspected stolen vehicle in Pontoon Beach. The mayor announced new relief he wants to provide.
"I'm going to set aside $20,000 of ARPA money today for any of those officers in my city who may need it, as a direct result of this conversation we had in the room (at the roundtable) today."
To back this support, Sen. Duckworth also said she has plans in place for a new training program for officers so they show up to their training centers ready to dive into this job.
In June, 5 On Your Side learned U.S. Steel planned to lay off nearly a thousand workers at its plant in Granite City.
Senator Duckworth talked a lot about the need to keep steel industry jobs.
"One of the things I'm actually doing is trying to bring other jobs into the region so that we're not dependent on a single location like Granite City Steel," she said.
But both her and Mayor Mike Parkinson said it's time to see Granite City for more than just its steel plant, too.
"I'm certainly a mayor that's looking to transition an older steel town into a newer economic boom," Mayor Parkinson said.
Senator Duckworth said she is part of active conversations for Granite City Steel to stay put, but that it's also important to be prepared to back the city if this doesn't happen.
Mayor Parkinson added if the steel plant does transition, he said wants to hold U.S. Steel accountable to clean up the site. He said this way they'll have a large space to bring in other life and other business.