FLEOA Supports Amending Senate Bill to Include LE

May 26, 2022

 The Honorable Gary C. Peters, Sr.  The Honorable Robert J. Portman
 Chairman, Committee on Homeland  Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland
    Security and Government Affairs     Security and Government Affairs 
 United States Senate  United States Senate
 Washington, DC 20510  Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman,

I am writing on behalf of the more than 31,000 members of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) to ask the Committee to amend S. 1116, the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2021, to include Federal law enforcement officers to this legislation. This change would ensure that the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) program as a whole can be reformed to address the unique needs of all federal public safety employees.

As introduced, the bill would create a series of presumptions within the FECA workers’ compensation program for certain diseases and cancers linked to exposure to toxic substances or environments solely for federal firefighters. The rest of the federal public safety workforce would be left out. During the COVID-19 response, the corona virus did not differentiate between a federal law enforcement officer or firefighter, the absence of federal law enforcement officers from this important piece of legislation ignores the dangers, service, and sacrifices of these brave men and women.

During the pandemic response, 2020 riots nationwide, the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack, 9/11 attacks, Iraq, Afghanistan, or responses to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, federal law enforcement officers have been deployed alongside other elements of the federal government, including federal firefighters. They faced the same risks and dealt with the same consequences. This is why for many years, our organization has supported the creation of a Public Safety Officer branch within FECA that would handle and focus exclusively on federal public safety cases. This is also why it is imperative that, if injured or disabled, all those that serve this nation be on equal footing within the FECA program.

For these and many other reasons, we strongly support amending this bill to include federal law enforcement officers so that we establish definitive line-of-duty connections between specific diseases, disabilities, and cancers. There is no valid policy argument not to include law enforcement officers in a program that they share with firefighters and who face the same hurdles as firefighters applying for benefits under the FECA program.

Just last week, the law enforcement profession placed over 500 names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, 301 of which were due to COVID-related illnesses. Of the 301 officers who fell from COVID, 40 were federal law enforcement officers and thousands more have endured the bureaucracy of the FECA claim system while recovering from this potentially deadly corona virus.

We think the Committee would agree that federal law enforcement officers’ service and sacrifice meets that of federal firefighters, which is why the bill should be amended to include all those that serve and sacrifice for this nation every day.

Larry Cosme
National President
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association