Provide benefits for police officers disabled in the line of duty
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The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program through the department of justice currently allows for payment of a one-time benefit to the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty. The benefit also applies to officers who are 100% disabled in the line of duty and rendered completely unable to work.
Benefits covering college tuition are also extended to the survivors of a deceased officer and the dependents of a disabled officer.
However, this does nothing to assist officers who are deemed disabled in the eyes of their department, but do not qualify for 100% disability.
I suffered a severe back injury and damage to my sciatic nerve when a fleeing suspect rammed my patrol car. I am unable to serve as a police officer anymore. That does not mean that I will never be able to work again in a different capacity. But I need help. So do many other forgotten disabled officers.
As the system currently stands, a disabled police officer would provide better financial support for their family if they were to succumb to their injury, or even commit suicide. We need encouragement, assistance, purpose, and a reason to live. Under the duress of a line of duty disability and the cumulating effects of the stress of the job, the men and women who sacrifice their health in the protection of others do not need financial justification for our own death. We need help getting back on our feet and going back to work.
Instead, I propose the following solution:
1. Amend the PSOB program to offer payment to first responders who are forced into retirement due to a line of duty disability regardless of the percentage of disability that their department deemed necessary for retirement.
2. Remove the one year time limit on filing a claim under the PSOB system. Many officers do not accept the fact that they need assistance until several years after their incident.
3. Adjust the College Assistance benefit to include the disabled officer as an option of occupational retraining. Help us go back to school.
4. For officers who do not reach the term of service needed for Student Loan Forgiveness, make line of duty disabilities a qualifying event that will fulfill the requirements to forgive any and all federal student loans acquired prior to the line of duty incident.
These simple changes will reduce the stress associated with such a critical life changing incident, and provide help to those of us who are often too proud to ask for it.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. Myself and thousands of other officers who have made physical sacrifices feel that there is nowhere else to turn for help.
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