With formal meetings for the year ending, Massachusetts police are trying to draw attention to what they see as “stalled” bills that would provide state death benefits to first responders who die on duty from COVID-19 transmission .
The Violently Injured Police Officers Organization (VIPO) and the New England Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors are asking Massachusetts to join states like Michigan, Missouri and Ohio that have approved similar bills. In Massachusetts, bills have not progressed past the committee level.
Citing the Officer Down Memorial Page as a source, the two groups said at least 760 law enforcement officers have died on duty nationwide from COVID-19 since 2020, including seven in Massachusetts.
“Some of them have already received federal death benefits but have yet to receive federal benefits because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has failed to pass legislation to support these families,” VIPO co-founder Mario Oliveiraa retired detective from Somerville, said.
The Public Services Committee heard Senator Michael Moore’s death benefits bill in July and consolidated it into another bill (H 2650) before the House Appropriations Committee. Another bill (S 1727) would grant benefits to the family of Rutland Police Detective John Songy, who died in May 2020.
“A few weeks will mark the second anniversary of the death of Detective John Songy and his widow, Joanne Songy, is still awaiting government assistance and benefits,” Oliveira said. “Joanne works three jobs to make ends meet and pay her mortgage, car, and other bills that come due.”
The House of Representatives first approved the Songy Act in March. It is now on its third reading in the House Committee on Bills, chaired by Rep. Denise Garlick.
The groups are calling on lawmakers to take action this week, National Police Week, a designation approved by Congress in 1962.
(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.
https://whdh.com/news/police-seek-benefits-for-line-of-duty-covid-deaths/ Police seek benefits for on-duty COVID deaths – Boston News, Weather, Sports