2006 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Smith (39th)
AN ACT TO CREATE A PRIVILEGE TO PROTECT THE CONTENTS OF ANY COMMUNICATION MADE TO A CERTIFIED PEER SUPPORT MEMBER BY AN EMERGENCY RESPONDER WHILE ENGAGED IN A PEER SUPPORT EVENT; TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS RELATING TO THE PRIVILEGE; TO PROVIDE EMOTIONAL AND MORAL SUPPORT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND OTHER EMERGENCY RESPONDERS; TO PROVIDE A CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR REVEALING THE CONTENTS OF SUCH PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Certified peer support member" means an emergency responder or civilian volunteer of an emergency service agency or entity who has received training in critical incident stress management and who is certified as a peer support member by the State Board of Health or the Department of Public Safety to provide emotional and moral support to an emergency responder who needs those services as a result of job-related stress or an incident in which the emergency responder was involved while acting in his official capacity.
(b) "Peer support event" means any debriefing, defusing or counseling session conducted by a certified peer support member that involves the emotional or moral support of an emergency responder who needs those services as a result of job-related stress or an incident in which the emergency responder was involved while acting in his official capacity.
(2) A certified peer support member shall not be compelled, without the consent of the emergency responder making the communication, to testify or in any way disclose the contents of any communication made to the certified peer support member by the emergency responder while engaged in a peer support event. This privilege only applies when the communication was made to the certified peer support member during the course of an actual peer support event.
(3) The privilege shall not apply if:
(a) The certified peer support member was an initial emergency service responder, a witness or a party to the incident that prompted the providing of the peer support event to the emergency responder; or
(b) A communication reveals the intended commission of a crime or harmful act and such disclosure is determined to be necessary by the certified peer support member to protect any person from a clear, imminent risk of serious mental or physical harm or injury, or to forestall a serious threat to the public safety.
(4) Any certified peer support member who reveals the contents of a privileged communication, or any person who threatens, intimidates, or in any way attempts to compel a certified peer support member to disclose the contents of a privileged communication, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(5) Any person who is an employee of this state, or any political subdivision thereof, who is convicted of a crime under this section shall be removed from office.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.