On April 9, 2020, The Department of Justice announced that any law enforcement officer that dies from COVID-19 will be covered as the victim of a line of duty death.
Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded today’s announcement that
law enforcement and other public safety officers who file a death benefit claim through the Public Safety
Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) program for a COVID-19 related death will be found by the Bureau of Justice
Assistance to have contracted the disease in the line of duty in most cases.
“This was a vitally important issue for the men and women on the front lines during this pandemic crisis,”
“I hope this assurance will bring some comfort and peace of mind to our officers that their families will be taken care of should they contract this horrible virus in the line of duty.”
Current law recognizes “infectious diseases” as a potential line of duty injury, but to file a claim for such
an injury requires substantial documentation to definitively link exposure and contraction of the disease to
a line of duty action. The new guidance from the Justice Department provides:
In general, BJA will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer with COVID‐19 contracted it in the line of duty, when (1) the officer had engaged in line of duty action or activity under circumstances that indicate that it was medically possible that the officer was exposed to the virus, SARS‐CoV‐2, while so engaged; and (2) the officer did contract the disease, COVID‐19, within a time‐frame where it was medically possible to contract the disease from that exposure. In addition, in the absence of evidence showing a different cause of death, BJA generally will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer who died while suffering from COVID‐19 died as
the direct and proximate result of COVID‐19.
The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with
more than 350,000 members. With inconclusive guidance on this pressing matter, the FOP took the issue of COVID-19 and line of duty death benefits directly to the White House.
According to FOP President Patrick Yoes, “We are extremely grateful, as always, to President Trump for his
decisive leadership, especially in this time of crisis and for the exceptional team he has put together at the
Travis Yates calls today’s decision both a sigh of relief and a blessing that law enforcement did not have in the previous years.
“It was heartbreaking under the former administration when families, mourning from the loss of their family member, had to worry about the benefits that were either being delayed or denied. It was the hard work of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Concerns of Police Survivors that took that fight to Washington DC when it should not have happened and I am extremely grateful to President Trump to ensuring that these heroes will not only be remembered but that their families will receive the benefits that they rightly deserve,” Yates said.
As of April 8, 2020, there have been 38 officers that have died from COVID-19.