California officers wounded in Las Vegas shooting were not eligible for workers comp under existing state law
By Crystal Havner
Reporting for The Sun-Gazette
FARMERSVILLE – Two years after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, cities are taking steps to ensure that off-duty officers who spring into action while visiting other states will be eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits for putting themselves in harm’s way.
The Farmersville City Council passed a resolution to make out-of-state, off-duty officers eligible for benefits at its Sept. 23 meeting.
The open-air Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas strip on Oct. 1, 2017 ended in 59 deaths, and over 800 wounded. But for the officers who fulfilled their pledge to protect and serve, and injured all the while, some of them went without workers compensation when they came back to California. Those officers were not eligible because they were off duty and out of state. Current law provides the benefits to officers whenever he or she is injured, dies or is disabled performing his or her duties, as a peace officer when not acting under the immediate direction of their employer in California as long as they are within the state. Resolution 2019-045 would change that to any state.
Police Chief Mario Krstic is in favor of the change. He stated that these incidents are rare but they unfortunately occur.
“If an officer is in a position where they can help, you would want them to,” he said. “So, with that expectation, they should be covered.”
Exeter also passed the resolution. Exeter councilman David Hails pledged his support when it came up on Exeter’s agenda.
“It makes sense, I’m all for it,” Hails said.
The resolution states that an officer will be eligible if at the time of sustaining the injury or illness was engaging in the apprehension or attempted apprehension of law violators or suspected law violators, the protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of the peace. Officers suspended from duty or not in good standing are not eligible for the benefits.
The resolution originated with Assembly Bill 1749. Singed into law in January 2018, AB 1749 authorized, but did not require, California cities to extend their worker’s comp benefits to officers in any situation where they are injured, disabled or killed while performing the duties of a sworn peace officer.
The resolution was drafted by the San Joaquin Risk Management Authority, a joint powers agreement between 54 Central Valley cities who share insurance providers and programs. The resolution applies to any incident that occurred after July 1, 2019.
“It’s the fair thing to do,” Councilmember Paul Boyer said. “We would be upset if they did not get involved and help so they should be covered if they do.”
Boyer, council member Tina Hernandez and Mayor Greg Gomez approved the resolution. Council members Ruben Macareno and Rosa Vasquez were absent.