U.S. House of Reps passes public safety bills with bipartisan support

The bills expand peer counseling programs, benefits for disabled responders and penalties for offenders who harm federal LEOs

By Suzie Ziegler 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed three public safety bills that expand peer counseling programs, benefits for disabled first responders and penalties for those who harm federal law enforcement officers. 

The bills passed with bipartisan support, according to a press release from the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC). 

Bill 921 allows suspects who harm or attempt to harm a federal officer to be prosecuted in the United States by granting extraterritorial jurisdiction over this criminal conduct, according to the release. The bill is also known as the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Act, so named after two customs agents who were attacked by drug cartels in Mexico in 2011. Zapata died of his injuries. 

Bill 1502, the COPS Counseling Act, creates new requirements for peer counseling programs for law enforcement officers, the release says. The bill requires any information shared by officers to remain confidential and calls on the Justice Department to provide training resources for officers who want to become peer mentors. 

Bill 1511, the Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021, revises certain benefits for first responders disabled in the line of duty. Currently, the Public Safety Officer Benefits only apply to disabled officers if they can never return to work. This bill ensures that disabled first responders “whose work is for therapeutic purposes, involves simple tasks, or provides special accommodations, can still receive benefits.” 

“It is encouraging to see that Congress continues working in a bipartisan manner to enact common sense legislation that will have a significant impact on officers nationwide,” said Brian Marvel, president of PORAC. “PORAC is encouraged by these three bills and remains committed to working with our legislators in Washington to develop and champion new policies that will place officers in a better position to serve our communities.” 

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