Leahy’s Amendment To Improve Program That Supports Fallen and Injured First Responders Clears Committee

Leahy’s Amendment To Improve Program
That Supports Fallen and Injured First Responders
Clears Committee

. . . Reforms Will Ensure That the Families of Police Officers and First Responders Don’t Lose Critical Benefits Due To Bureaucratic Processing Delays

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 9, 2016) – Efforts by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to strengthen the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program for officers and their families won unanimous support in the Judiciary Committee Thursday.

The PSOB was first enacted in 1976, providing benefits for certain survivors of public safety officers who die or are disabled as a result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty.  Leahy has long worked to improve the program and ensure family members receive the benefits they deserve under the program.

On Thursday, he continued those efforts by successfully adding an amendment to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 to protect officers and their families from bureaucratic delays that threaten their benefits. His amendment ensures that children of fallen officers are not denied education benefits due to “aging out” of the program because of processing delays, and that improvements in the underlying legislation are applied not only to future PSOB applicants, but also to those currently stuck in the backlog.

The amendment was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee during Thursday’s executive business meeting.

“Our nation’s law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders face dangers every day to ensure the safety and security of our communities. Congress has a responsibility to support and protect these brave men and women and their families,” Leahy said.  “The PSOB program has largely been a success, but unnecessary and unacceptable delays in processing benefits must be addressed. It is important that Congress continue to improve this program so that we can support the law enforcement officers who protect us.”

Approval of Leahy’s amendments comes just weeks after the president signed into law his bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, which has helped equip local and state police and sheriff’s officers in Vermont with more than 4,400 bulletproof vests, and more than 1.2 million vests across the country.

The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) strongly supported Leahy’s amendment, which FOP said “will provide much needed transparency and accountability to the PSOB.”

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