Dear Secretary Scalia,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to raise our concerns with respect to the occupational safety and health oflaw enforcement officers during the National Emergency concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
While COVID-19 is without a doubt a public health crisis, it may also become a public safety concern, as the spread of the virus will have an impact on public safety operations from simple things like answering emergency calls to infected or potentially infected persons, to enforcing quarantines and restrictions on travel as well as protecting vital supplies and facilities. Law enforcement will play a critical role in responding to this outbreak and, like every other sector of American society, they must do so with a workforce that will also be diminished because of the virus. Just a few days ago, reports emerged that the first presumptive positive COVID-19 patient in Montgomery County, Texas was a Patton Village police officer.
As you are aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. Law enforcement officers, more than 90% of whom will be responding from local and State agencies, will be exposed to the illness at a higher rate than the public due to their routine day-to-day work. We ask that the Labor Department act now and establish a presumption for law enforcement officers who contract COVID-19 as an Occupational Illness and be covered under Workers’ Compensation.
On behalf of the more than 350,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, thank you for your leadership and please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco if you should need our help or support in your efforts.