WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that two bills she leads to bolster benefits for first responders and increase investigation resources for carjackings and other crimes unanimously passed out of the committee.

The bipartisan Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would expand access to federal support for the families of first responders who passed away from cancer caused by carcinogenic exposure during their service. The bill would also extend disability benefits in cases where they become permanently and totally disabled due to service related cancer. Currently, first responders are only eligible for support under the Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) program for physical injuries sustained in the line-of-duty, or for deaths from duty-related heart attacks, strokes, mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and 9/11 related illnesses.

“Our first responders put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe and it’s unacceptable that officers who succumb to cancer from work-related exposure or become permanently and totally disabled don’t receive the same treatment as others who die in the line of duty,” said Klobuchar about the Honoring our Fallen Heroes Act. “My bipartisan bill to ensure that first responders and their families get the benefits they deserve has now passed out of committee. I’ll keep fighting to get it over the finish line to honor the memory of St. Paul Fire Department Captain Michael Paidar and so many others who risk their lives in service of their communities.”

“Firefighters and first responders put their lives and health on the line every day and have an increased risk of receiving devastating diagnoses many years after exposure to carcinogens,”
said Cramer. “Our bill expands benefits to include occupationally-connected cancers to care for those who protect our communities. I applaud the bill’s passage out of committee today and implore Leader Schumer to take it up on the Senate floor.”

The legislation was introduced in honor of Michael Paidar, a Maple Grove and St. Paul fire captain who died of an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia on August 26, 2020. In 2021, after strong advocacy from the Paidar family, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety awarded line-of-duty benefits to Captain Paidar’s widow Julie, the first time that a firefighter’s family had received benefits for cancer incurred in the line-of-duty through Minnesota’s state public safety benefits program. The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would ensure that first responders across the country are eligible to receive similar benefits under the federal PSOB program. 

In addition to the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act, Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) bipartisan Retired Law Enforcement Officers Continuing Service Act passed the committee. The bill will enable law enforcement agencies to hire retired law enforcement officers to perform civilian law enforcement tasks. Their skills can be used by police departments to improve investigations of carjackings and other crimes and train the next generation of law enforcement officers. 

“Carjacking doesn’t just rob people of their vehicles—it robs them of their sense of security. We need to take action to address the problem head on,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan bill will allow local police departments to get experienced law enforcement professionals to work on investigations for carjacking and other crimes, train the next generation of law enforcement officers, and strengthen public safety.”

“Criminal trends threaten Americans’ peace and safety and strain law enforcement resources," Grassley said. "Retired officers who are willing and able to continue working to protect our communities should have our support to do so. I'm glad to see this innovative and commonsense measure move forward amid National Police Week."

The bipartisan Retired Law Enforcement Officers Continuing Service Act will fund grant programs to help state and local law enforcement agencies hire retired law enforcement officers to train new law enforcement officers and perform civilian tasks that don’t require a sworn officer with police powers. This includes helping with carjacking investigations by reviewing camera footage, helping with crime scene analysis, as well as investigations into financial and cyber-crimes. 

This bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, and Minnesota Peace and Police Officers Association. 

The Judiciary Committee also passed legislation to reauthorize the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act, which Klobuchar supports, to provide grant funding for law enforcement family-support services and establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for law enforcement officers.