In a victory for NAPO, the House passed H.R. 6509, the Public Safety Officers Pandemic Response Act, and S. 2746, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act, on May 27, 2020.
The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would establish that COVID-19 shall be presumed to have been contracted as a result of the officer’s service for the purposes of PSOB death and disability benefits. It would create a specific standard for COVID-19-related disability this is based on whether a PSOB claimant is permanently prevented from performing any gainful work as a public safety officer due to their COVID-19 diagnosis. Finally, it would recognize the physical toll 9/11 related illnesses have had on first responders by covering under the PSOB Program those public safety officers whose 9/11 related illness are compounded by a COVID-19 diagnosis and lead to their death or disability.
As the House and Senate passed different versions of a COVID-19 PSOB presumption (the Senate passed S. 3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act on May 14), NAPO is working with both Chairman Nadler’s staff and Senator Grassley’s staff to push for a quick compromise on a PSOB presumption bill that both chambers can agree on. Both bills establish the same presumption for death benefits and create a presumption for disability benefits, but H.R. 6509 also extends benefits to public safety officers who suffer from a 9/11 related illness and contract COVID-19 and has a more generous disability benefit threshold. We will keep you updated on these efforts.
S. 2746, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act would require the Department of Justice to establish a program to collect data on law enforcement and former law enforcement suicides at the local, State, and Federal level. This bill passed the Senate on May 14 and is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Lastly, a reminder to please let me know if the agencies or departments you represent are experiencing actual or threatened furloughs of employees due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. We are tracking this information as it is important for our continued fight for increased, flexible funding for state and local governments to help offset budget and revenue holes to stave off or end the furloughing of officers.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need more information.
Thank you and stay safe,
Director of Governmental Affairs
National Association of Police Organizations
317 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314