Houston police officers don’t generally think of themselves as victims.
But they are.
They can perform their sworn duty – to protect and defend victims – and suffer serious injuries that result in, say, the loss of an extra job or the burden of unexpected expenses.
Lt. Julie Pleasant of the Victim Services Division said the division ardently strives to see that victims in HPD cases receive the information and directions necessary to get the victims’ compensation to which they are entitled according to state law.
Lt. Pleasant believes many HPD officers assume the law only applies to the victims they sometimes risk their lives for. On the list of eligible recipients, the law clearly includes “a peace officer, fire fighter, or individual whose employment includes the duty of protecting the public.”
“I try to make this point clear in the in-service training sessions,” Pleasant said. “but I’m not sure the message comes through.”
On one recent day of duty, the lieutenant was helping to process claims from recently wounded officers.
“We do this for them,” she explained, “when they are injured in the line of duty like the three officers shot three weeks ago. This includes applications for reimbursements for extra jobs and for loved ones that took off work to help them.
Pleasant referred to out-of-pocket expenses not part of worker’s compensation. She mentioned that reimbursement for travel and for the wages lost for relatives who take off work to help an injured officer. Another eligible expense: parking expenses at the Texas Medical Center.
A key component is compensation for wages lost from being unable to work an extra job. “Workers’ comp covers medical,” she said. “This (compensation) is for things not covered by workers’ comp.”
Another important point Pleasant makes: “This compensation is to help with those things that – if not for the act, the criminal activity – you wouldn’t have incurred these expenses.”
At this point, we urge any officer who has any questions to, yes, call Victim Services Division. They are there to help victims – especially those who carry a badge and gun.