Washington, DC - Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded today’s news that the United States House of Representatives considered and passed two important law enforcement-related bills: H.R. 6509, the “Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act,” and S. 2746, the “Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act.”
“Both of these bills are important to our membership and we are grateful to the House leadership, especially to the Majority Leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, for his tireless advocacy on our behalf,” said Yoes.
The House passed H.R. 6509, the “Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act,” under a suspension of the rules. The legislation, introduced by Representatives Jerrold L. Nadler (D-NY), Max N. Rose (D-NY) and William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), would codify the presumption that the surviving family of a public safety officer who contracts COVID-19 in the line of duty and dies as a result is eligible for death benefits through the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program. Additionally, the legislation ensures that our officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled from the virus. Lastly, the bill also recognizes the unique vulnerability of officers who were injured or disabled in the line of duty in relation to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and whose injuries—in combination with a line-of-duty COVID-19 illness—rendered them disabled or caused their death will be eligible to receive the death or disability benefits under the PSOB program.
“We knew at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that law enforcement officers on the frontlines would be increasingly vulnerable to contracting the virus—according to our data, 112 law enforcement officers have died due to COVID-19 as of today,” said Yoes. “At this time of heightened risk, this legislation is critically necessary to ensure that these officers and their families, who are not able to 'stay at home' during this crisis, will be taken care of in the event that they become disabled and are unable to continue to serve as law enforcement officers.”
The House also passed S. 2746, the “Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act,” under a suspension of the rules. The legislation, introduced by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and championed in the House by Representatives Michael B. Quigley (D-IL), Madeleine C. Dean (D-PA) and W. Gregory Steube (R-FL), would establish a program to collect data on law enforcement and former law enforcement suicides at the local, State, and Federal level. The bill will be transmitted to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.
“The sad reality is that we lose more officers to suicide every year than die in the line of duty,” said Yoes. “Every day in every community, officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and they are not just at risk physically—the mental health challenges of police work are real and can result in depression, substance abuse, PTSD, marital problems and, all too often, suicide. We know that officers in crisis need help, but with this legislation, we’ll be able to gather the information needed for us to be successful in our efforts to assist our officers.”
The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with more than 351,000 members.