Amid National Police Week And Global Pandemic, Brindisi Backs Bill To Provide Critical Protections for Public Safety Officers Threatened By COVID-19

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From the office of Congressman Anthony Brindisi:

Congressman Calls For Swift Passage of Bipartisan Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 To Provide For Public Safety Officers Impacted By The Pandemic

Brindisi: We Need To Protect Those Who Bravely Protect Us 

During National Police Week, Congressman Anthony Brindisi honored public safety officers by co-sponsoring the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020. This legislation will expand an existing federal program to ensure that public safety officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled or die from the virus. 

This is the latest in Brindisi’s efforts to make sure law enforcement and frontline workers are taken care of in the wake of the global pandemic. Brindisi has championed the need for funding to local governments to protect area police forces in any future coronavirus legislation as well. 

“During this pandemic, our brave men and women of law enforcement have continued to put their lives at risk to keep us safe,” Brindisi said. “Just like during other national emergencies and tragedies, we need to protect those who protect us. No police officer should worry about their family being taken care of if the unthinkable happens and they get sick. This bipartisan bill will honor our heroes by protecting them and their families.”

The legislation, introduced by fellow New York Congressmen and co-sponsored by Republican Representative Peter King (NY-02), provides protections for law enforcement officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty. 

Brindisi’s efforts were praised by local law enforcement officers and national advocacy groups.

“The women and men of the Utica Police Department sincerely appreciate Congressman Brindisi’s support for the Public Safety Officers Pandemic Response Act of 2020,” said Chief Mark Williams, Utica Police Department. “The recent pandemic is unprecedented in our recent history. Each day police officers are interacting with people whose medical conditions or history is unknown to us. Our police officers need the protection afforded within this act to take care of themselves or their families in the event they fall ill. We appreciate the backing of our elected officials during these difficult times.”

“I want to thank Congressman Brindisi for his support of law enforcement and this important legislation.” said Broome County Sheriff David E. Harder. “During COVID-19, our officers have stepped up and answered the call to keep working and keep our community safe. These folks are going out into the community and doing their part at risk to their health. Congress needs to make sure they and their families are protected. I appreciate Congressman Brindisi fighting for us.”

“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—as of today, 104 law enforcement officers have died to COVID-19,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “The National FOP offers our strong support for the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act. This bill codifies 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 of its contraction are eligible for death benefits through the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits 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. At a time of heightened risk from this pandemic, we believe this is 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 they are disabled and unable to continue to serve as law enforcement officers.”

“Law enforcement officers are out on the frontlines of this pandemic risking their lives daily to protect our communities from COVID-19,” said Steven R. Casstevens, President, International Association of Chiefs of Police. “On behalf of the IACP’s more than 31,000 members, I applaud the bill’s cosponsors for introducing this important legislation to expand the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit program to ensure that if our officers get sick or perish from this horrible virus, that they and their families receive the benefits they deserve.” 

“Deputy Sheriffs and Police Officers across our nation put their lives on the line every day and even more so during this pandemic,” said Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, National Sheriffs’ Association 2nd Vice President. “This legislation would ensure that their hard work and sacrifice will be properly acknowledged.”

The bipartisan bill would:

  • Establish that a diagnosis for COVID-19 will be presumed to constitute a personal injury in the line of duty for the purposes of eligibility for the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program, unless the officer was not on duty in the relevant time period.
  • Establish the COVID-19-related disability standard be based on whether a PSOB claimant is permanently prevented from performing any gainful work as a public safety officer on account of their COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • Ensure that 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 receive benefits under the PSOB program.

Text of the bill can be found HERE and a summary HERE.

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