02-02-2015

Protecting Funds for Officers Injured in the Line of Duty

Law

For several years while serving in the North Carolina Senate, I worked to stop the abuse by individuals seeking compensation reserved for law-enforcement heroes.

Under a previous state law, the Legislature had intended to continue the full salary of any state law-enforcement officer injured in the line of duty while protecting the public. This law was well intended — lawmakers wanted to make sure that law-enforcement heroes didn’t see a salary cut while going through the healing process after a significant injury. However, we discovered that a number of individuals, who were NOT heroes, were seeking compensation under the fund.

Here’s an example: A corrections officer slips in a parking lot and hurts his back. He is out of work for a year and a half while healing. Instead of seeking Worker’s Compensation, like every other employee is required to do, he would receive full salary and benefits under the salary continuation plan for up to two full years.

My new law amended the old legislation. Now, only law-enforcement officers “injured and incapacitated as a result of heightened risk and special hazards directly related to the violent nature of their official duties” will receive full salary for the two year period, before receiving the rates provided under Worker’s Compensation.

This change means that if the same corrections officer in our example was injured in a prison riot while attempting to protect another officer, he would receive his full salary and benefits for up to two years while healing.

This change will save taxpayers several million dollars every year and the fund will remain solvent to compensate our law enforcement heroes.

S.L. 2014-100, Sec. 35.12 (SB 744, Sec. 35.12)

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