Washington, DC - Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded today’s news that President Donald J. Trump signed S. 3607, the “Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act,” into law.
“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,” said Yoes. “We are sad to report that as of today, 195 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty due to COVID-19. But thanks to those who worked to get this law passed, the families of these officers will be eligible for PSOB death and disability benefits.”
The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program provides that the surviving family members of a public safety officer who contracts an infectious disease in the line of duty and dies as a result of its contraction are eligible for the PSOB’s death benefit. Before the President’s action today, the family was required to prove that the exposure occurred in the line of duty. Given the insidious nature of this novel coronavirus, this had placed an unnecessary burden on the surviving families.
“This law will codify and strengthen the existing guidance from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which we were able to secure with the help of the President and the Attorney General back in April,” said Yoes. “This new law will ensure that these officers and their families, who were not able to ‘stay at home’ during this crisis, will be taken care of in the event they are disabled and unable to continue to serve as law enforcement officers.”
The law, which was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), establishes a statutory presumption that law enforcement or other public safety officers who die or become disabled from COVID-19 or complications related to COVID-19 did so because they sustained a personal injury in the line of duty, provided that the officer engaged in line-of-duty actions between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021.
“We would like to thank not only President Trump for signing this bill into law, but Senators Grassley and Booker for introducing the legislation in the Senate,” said Yoes. “We recognize that there is no legislation, grant, or government program that will end the sad fact that law enforcement officers will die in the line of duty, but we can ensure that every sacrifice, every loss of every family is treated the same. We share their grief and honor their memory.”
The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with more than 354,000 members.