WILMINGTON, MA — A bill named in honor of Wilmington fallen hero Sean Collier is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives.
If passed, the Officer Sean Collier Campus Police Recognition Act would allow the families of police officers — employed at PRIVATE colleges and universities — that are killed in the line of duty to receive death benefits from the federal government.
Currently, only the families of sworn law enforcement officers at PUBLIC colleges and universities are eligible for these benefits.
“Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed while on duty on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in April 2013 by the Boston Marathon Bombers,” reads a statement from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. “Because MIT is a private, non-profit institution of higher education, his family is not eligible for [Public Safety Officer Benefits] assistance. Had Officer Collier been employed by a public college or university, his family would have been eligible for assistance. In fact, had an officer with the city police department been killed alongside Officer Collier, the city officer’s family would have received [Public Safety Officer Benefits] assistance.”
According to the Association, since 1923, 46 university police officers have been killed in the line of duty — 34 at public institutions eligible to receive the death benefit and 12 private institutions not eligible to receive the death benefit.
“Congress passed the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act to provide peace of mind to aspiring police officers by assuring them that their families would be cared for in the event they gave their life in service to others,” according to the statement. “As a matter of basic fairness, this peace of mind should be given to all sworn law enforcement officers regardless of which agency employs them.”
The Officer Sean Collier Campus Police Recognition Act of 2019 (H.R. 816) has bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Peter King (R-New York), already has 15 co-sponsors, including Massachusetts representatives Seth Moulton, Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating, Joe Kennedy, Katherine Clark, James McGovern, and Lori Trahan.
The bill was introduced in the House on January 28, 2019. It was immediately referred to the Judiciary Committee. On March 25, 2019, the bill was referred to Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
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