Public safety is one of the most important responsibilities of state government. When it comes to keeping our communities safe so we can go to school, work and enjoy time with our families in peace, we have a lot for which to thank our police officers.
They work long hours in sometimes dangerous places and situations, and they spend time away from their own loved ones. To help recognize and honor the service and sacrifices of our police officers, we observe National Police Week each May. This year, it is May 15 through May 21.
Police Week began in 1962 at the direction of President John F. Kennedy as a gathering of survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Over the years it has grown, and today, tens of thousands converge at our nation’s capital.
In Michigan, we do much to honor the lives of officers lost as well as survivors and those still in uniform. From the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Lansing to honor the fallen, to increasing funding for our hardworking, dedicated police officers, we look out for the ones who look out for us.
I am proud to say that the Legislature has increased funding for our State Police force in recent years. For the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year Budget that the Senate recently approved, we voted to dedicate additional funding to increase the number of state police troopers.
But there is one area that needs attention: We need to do a better job supporting the spouses and children of officers killed in the line of duty. Last year I introduced a bill that would guarantee them health care benefits.
Under Senate Bill 218, which was approved by the Senate and is currently in the House of Representatives for consideration, the spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members who lose their lives as a result of their duties on the job would be provided health care coverage comparable to those of retired state police officers.
The debt we owe to those fallen officers cannot be fully repaid, but we can do something to support their families at a very small cost to the state. Providing health care coverage to the spouses and children of officers who die in the line of duty is a small token of our appreciation that will hopefully go a long way toward helping them.
As we observe National Police Week, take a moment to show your appreciation for all they do.
If you would like to learn more, visit policeweek.org.