Biden Signs into Law Bill Inspired by Suicide of County Police Officer
Credit: Montgomery Community Media, Suzanne Pollak
Pres. Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday a bill that expands benefits to police officers who die as a result of suicide. U.S. Rep. David Trone first introduced this bill following the death by suicide of Montgomery County Police Officer Thomas T.J. Bomba.
Bomba shot himself in a Silver Spring parking garage in October of 2019.
The new law expands the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program to include coverage for first responders who die as a result of suicide or are permanently disabled as a result of traumatic service-related experiences.
“First responders often experience more trauma in one day than many of us will experience in our lifetimes. This takes a significant toll on the officers and sometimes leads to disability or even suicide,” Trone (D-6th) said. “We heard first responders loud and clear to make sure the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program is there not only for those suffering from physical injuries, but also from mental injuries. Today, we got the job done for millions of first responders across our country by putting our people over partisanship.”
Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones called the new law “an extraordinary piece of legislation as it will allow law enforcement officers and their families across the country to no longer suffer in silence.” Under the law, “Our officers earn access to health care benefits – whether physical or mental – if they are injured on the job or face trauma from their service.”
The law allows public safety officers to seek disability benefits for PTSD linked to severe trauma by directing the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program to designate work-related PTSD and acute stress disorders as a line of duty injury for eligible officers as well as those who are permanently disabled as a result of attempted suicide.
It also permits family members of officers who due by trauma-linked suicide to apply for death benefits by directing the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program to presume the suicides are a result of job duties in certain traumatic circumstances where there is evidence that PTSD or acute stress disorder was the cause.