President Joe Biden on Thursday signed several bipartisan bills into law that expand benefits for first responders injured in the line of duty and offer more counseling resources to police officers.
Biden signed the “Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021,” the “Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act,” and the “Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act” into law at a White House ceremony.
“When you look at what our communities need and what our law enforcement is being asked to do, it’s going to require more resources, not fewer resources,” Biden said.
The Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021 makes significant improvements to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) program, which provides first responders who die or are permanently disabled in the line of duty with a federal benefit of $370,000 and education assistance of $1,200 a month to their children or spouse.
The Protecting America’s First Responders Act also addresses lengthy delays in processing benefit claims so that impacted officers and families aren’t left waiting for their owed relief during the most difficult of times.
The “COPS Counseling Act” will expand the peer support and counseling programs that law enforcement agencies must provide to law enforcement officers.
“Every day our nation’s police officers answer the call and confront scenes that can take a toll on them and leave them traumatized,” Biden said Thursday prior to signing the bill. “You know, it’s not fundamentally different than folks in the battlefield…we need to help them recover from their invisible wounds that their work can affect.”
Finally, the “Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act” expands the Department of Justice’s capabilities to prosecute people accused of killing U.S. law enforcement agents abroad.
That bill is named for two Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers who were killed while investigating drug cartels in Mexico.