Dear Representatives Pascrell and Giménez,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong support for H.R. 1719, the “Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act.”
Our law enforcement officers are in harm’s way each and every day. They are exposed not only to physical threats, but also unseen or unknown threats while operating in potentially hazardous environments. Public safety officers who are exposed to known carcinogens and who contract cancer that ends their lives or disables them should be considered to have sustained a personal injury in the line of duty for the purposes of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program.
According to research published in 2011 by the State University of Buffalo and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, law enforcement officers have higher rates of brain cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma than the general population. The report highlighted a number of additional studies that show an elevated mortality risk among officers due to various cancers.
Your legislation addresses this stark reality and would correctly categorize duty-related cancer fatalities as a line of duty death under Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program. This bill acknowledges their sacrifice in service to their communities and ensures that the families of fallen officers receive the benefits to which they are entitled—it’s the right thing to do.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you both for your leadership on this critical issue. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.