Currently, line-of-duty death benefits for eligible police officers include a one-time state payment of $300,000 to their spouse and a one-time federal benefit to the family, and spouses receive 100 percent of the officer’s pay for the duration of their lives. Officers who retired with an accidental disability are only eligible to receive up to 72 percent of their regular salary.
However, Massachusetts law does not acknowledge pension and benefit packages for police officers who are severely injured in the line of duty. Mario and Bob have petitioned, along with the late Senator Kenneth Donnelly, Representative Kenneth Gordon, Representative Timothy Whelan, Senator Walter Timilty, and Representative Linda Dean Campbell, to create Senate Bill 1405, An Act relative to disability pensions for violent crimes, which currently sits in the Senate Ways and Means Committee with significant support from lawmakers.
Under this bill, permanently injured municipal police officers would be allowed to apply for more generous benefits, as much as 100 percent of their regular compensation, tax-free, for the rest of their life, by submitting an application through their department and retirement board.
It took years for both Mario and Bob to get their benefits approved in their respective communities. Through this legislation, they hope to help other officers avoid the same trouble and frustration to take care of themselves and their families like they would be able to if they hadn’t been injured.
Additionally, thanks to the hard work of VIPO, police departments are now required to have a line-of-duty death policy in order to achieve accreditation through the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.
Both Mario and Bob have traveled all over the country speaking about their experiences at hundreds of events including the FBI National Academy, the annual Homicide Conference in Miami and the East Coast Gang Investigators Conference in Delaware. In July, they will be the keynote speakers at the FBI National Academy National Conference in Quebec City.
In addition to speaking about their stories and providing educating police departments on best practices when handling traumatic incidents and coping strategies for officers who are shot or violently injured, Mario and Bob travel to police departments to teach about deconfliction. Deconfliction is when multiple law enforcement agencies and/or organizations are working on the same case and are able to communicate with one another to avoid “blue on blue conflict” where one department may unknowingly and unintentionally interfere with another agency’s involvement in a case.