On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl and Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees to mark National Police Week and to outline bipartisan legislation in support of law enforcement officials and their families as they work to keep Ohio communities safe. Monday, the Senate unanimously passed three bills that Brown co-sponsored. The bills now await action by the House.
“As we honor the work and sacrifices made by our law enforcement officers throughout Police Week, we need to offer more than kind words — we need action to support law enforcement as they work to keep Ohio communities safe,” Brown said. “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each day to protect us. This Police Week, we owe them more than gratitude — we must do all we can to support the men and women that selflessly serve our communities and country every single day.”
According to Brown, his bills would put pressure on the Department of Justice to speed up claims processing so families of disabled officers or fallen officers get the benefits they are owed more quickly, to authorize police departments to use certain federal grant funding to hire veterans as law enforcement officers, help law enforcement agencies establish or enhance mental health care services, like peer mentoring pilot programs and crisis hotlines, for their officers and Increase access to federal scholarship dollars for the children of public safety officers killed in the line of duty.
“I am pleased that issues that are important in helping protect law enforcement officers and their families are getting the attention in Washington that they so justly deserve,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “Now, more than ever, the presence and well being of law enforcement officers is vital to maintaining our communities’ safety and meeting the demands of the profession.”
The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act of 2017 was passed unanimously by the Senate Monday. The bill would update legislation signed into law in 1976 that provides federal benefits to the family members of fallen officers.
The American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 was also passed unanimously by the Senate Monday. Brown’s bill prioritizes federal grant applications for DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding for those departments and agencies that seek to use COPS funding to hire veterans.
The Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act would increase access to Pell Grant scholarships for children of public service officers who are killed in the line of duty, including police, firefighters, and EMS workers.
“While the profession is one held in high regard by many, some do not feel the same,” Ware said. “During National Law Enforcement Week, please take the time to say thank you to the brave men and women working hard across this nation, each and every day, to bring safety and security to your communities.”
National Police Week honors law enforcement officers and their families and serves as a remembrance of officers who have died in the line of duty. The commemoration of National Police Week began in 1962 under a proclamation signed by President John F. Kennedy.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.