SELECT A
CATEGORY
NEXT ARTICLE PREVIOUS ARTICLE

News

SUBMIT AN ARTICLE BACK TO OVERVIEW

COVID-19 Update from President Cosme

April 6, 2020 

Dear Fellow Members, As we watch our nation respond to this historic pandemic, we are in awe of the heroism of our health care, military, and public safety professionals doing what they do best – selflessly and courageously answering the call.  It is imperative that you and your family members follow the CDC guidelines both at home and at work. It is also important for you to stay informed with what is happening around you and with FLEOA. As this crisis has unfolded, your FLEOA Team has continued to aggressively advocate for you with the Administration and on Capitol Hill.  As always though, our greatest weapon is the engagement of our 28,000 members with their elected officials. With most of our nation under "stay at home orders” it is a great time to call or email your Senator and Representative’s office to let them know the issues that are important to you and how they can better serve you.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): 

During this crisis, FLEOA has continued to work and advocate for several major things. Initially, the most important issue was ensuring access to PPE. We heard from across the federal law enforcement spectrum that many agencies were lacking the necessary PPE during this crisis.  As we noted in previous messages, FLEOA was successful in ensuring funds were allocated across the government for PPE gear. Unfortunately, due to the speed and method in which Congress was writing the first three COVID-19 response bills, the manner in which funding was appropriated varied.  Despite that, every department or agency received some form of funding for PPE. Actually acquiring the PPE has become another issue FLEOA continues to focus on. 

Hazardous Duty Pay: 

Another critically important issue we continue to work on is ensuring all federal law enforcement receive hazardous duty pay.  It was part of our initial request but did not make it into the first three COVID-19 bills. We have continued to discuss the issue with Congress, the Administration, and the Department of Labor. We will continue to work all angles in Washington, D.C. to try to make this happen.  It is important to recognize and pay federal employees for the ongoing hazardous conditions they are working in.  

Pay Cap Waiver: 

As reported in prior member notices, FLEOA was successful in getting pay cap waivers in place for a few agencies – but was not happy it has not been applied to all.  We have told our supporters on Capitol Hill that the issue persists and have requested the entire federal law enforcement community be included in the pay cap waivers in any future legislation. This is another constant item FLEOA has been pushing since the very beginning.  In doing so, we’ve gotten consensus from many agencies and departments who have weighed in with support. We have also asked the Administration to be openly in support of this since it is a clear workforce planning and staffing issue. We will continue to advocate for this important issue. 

Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA):

We have heard from members around the nation that, as "stay at home” orders have taken hold, many states have suspended LEOSA credential processing or qualifications.  This places qualified federal law enforcement officers in a potential precarious situation of either having an expired or non-existent LEOSA qualification. In discussing this issue, we have been working with a coalition of law enforcement groups. We found a solution with federal statutory bill language drafted by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).  We are working with the law enforcement groups to get this bill introduced. If passed into law, the bill would provide a blanket federal waiver of LEOSA requirements from the date the President declared a national emergency until it is declared over. 

First Responder Fair RETIRE Act (S.531 / HR 1256): 

Given the unknown impacts exposure to COVID-19 may have on federal law enforcement officers, we have been pushing the House and Senate sponsors of the "First Responder Fair RETIRE Act” to make this part of any fourth COVID-19 response legislation. This legislation would permit disabled law enforcement officers to receive retirement benefits in the same manner as if they had not been disabled. The House sponsor, Rep. Gerald Connolly from Virginia, has embraced this and is working this in the House on behalf of FLEOA. 

Federal Employee Compensation Act / Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (FECA/OWCP): 

If injured or disabled by COVID-19, FLEOA engaged the Director of FECA / OWCP and requested that they issue updated guidance on how a COVID-19 claim would be handled.  FECA / OWCP has issued some interim guidance available here. FLEOA’s request prepared draft language that any COVID-19 exposure would be "presumptive” to have occurred "on the job.”  This would substantially decrease bureaucratic hurdles to injured federal law enforcement officers seeking coverage by FECA/ OWCP.  Despite these assurances, it is imperative that each individual who has experienced or thinks they experienced a COVID-19 exposure document that exposure either formally or informally.  The lessons from the 9/11 exposure issues should come to mind. It is imperative that every individual either make a notation in a notebook, submit an incident report if possible, or file a CA-1/CA-2/equivalent for exposure.  Down the road, any work related compensation or PSOB issues will need that documentation to make a determination.  Please ensure you keep records and keep them current. 

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB): 

In similar fashion, FLEOA participated in a law enforcement group communication with the Director of PSOB to discuss how they would best handle COVID-19 related claims. Once again, FLEOA and the other law enforcement groups pushed for PSOB to adopt similar "presumptive'' language that FECA/OWCP are working on.  FLEOA also coordinated a call between PSOB and FECA/OWCP to try to gain a consistent approach to COVID-19 claims. If PSOB fails to adopt "presumptive” language, FLEOA and other law enforcement groups are prepared to push for legislation to fix the issue.  

World Trade Center (WTC) Health Screening: 

For those with WTC-related health conditions, working in any of the "hot spots” be aware of potential further health related issues from COVID-19 exposure. Both the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) programs have provided updated information on their operations during the coronavirus pandemic. The WTCHP has posted information for ongoing medical care, expanded use of telehealth, and access to prescriptions; as well as links to information for higher risk individuals. WTCHP  information can be found here. For the VCF, there is information on the impact of the pandemic on the Fund’s operations that can be found here

As we navigate this crisis, it is also critical to keep the CDC’s guidance in mind for higher risk persons, which is all of you due to your occupation. That information can be found here.      

While we navigate these unchartered waters, it is most important that you and your families keep your health and safety as the top priority, including your mental health.  FLEOA has several resources available via Acadia healthcare, which can be assessed here.  They are only a phone call away and available to you 24/7.  Many of you are asking what you can do to support the issues that impact you. We need your help on mobilizing and communicating with your U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to make sure they support our legislative priorities during this pandemic crisis.             

To contact your Representative, visit here and call or email their office to ask them to support any of the legislative priorities mentioned in this letter. To contact your Senator, visit here and call or email their office to ask them to support any of the legislative priorities mentioned in this letter, particularly hazardous duty pay, the pay cap waiver, and the Fair RETIRE act.  

You are all doing tremendous work to protect America and stop this pandemic.  It is awe inspiring to see you perform under such dangerous circumstances. You have our entire nation’s eternal gratitude and appreciation.  You make our nation strong and you keep our nation safe while we work on supporting your efforts, we encourage you to be engaged and help FLEOA fight for you.                                                         

Fraternally,

Larry Cosme

National President

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association