Multiple out-of-state law enforcement officers who sprang into action by attempting to save lives during the massacre at the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel and Casino were denied workers’ compensation after returning home. Though the four off-duty sheriff’s deputies who attended the concert were hailed as heroes, their claims were dismissed on a technicality in the state labor code.
As reported by NBC News, Orange County, California, officials denied the four deputies’ workers’ compensation claims, preventing them from accessing a form of financial assistance for those who are injured while performing their duties.
The reason behind the decision was connected to requirements listed in the state labor code which state that benefits can only be provided to law enforcement officers acting in “protection or preservation of life or property” within the state of California. Since their injuries, both physical and psychological, were acquired while assisting in Las Vegas, they don’t qualify.
The technicality is under dispute, and some progress is being seen, at least at the county level, to find a way for officers and first responders to receive compensation regardless of where the incident took place.
“These deputies jumped into action during the Las Vegas massacre without thinking for a second about where it was happening and whether they were technically on duty, said Tom Dominguez, the president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, in a statement.
“Active shooters, terrorists and criminals who exemplify pure evil don’t pay attention to state lines; law enforcement shouldn’t have to either,” said Dominguez. “Counties and municipalities must properly interpret the law to ensure the public is protected.”
With the threat of mass casualty events at the forefront of many people’s minds, the issue of compensation for those who act in accordance to their professional skills is a looming question.
Supervisors in Orange County intend to meet on Tuesday to discuss a proposal that would allow off-duty employees to be compensated if they are wounded while working to save lives in a “mass casualty” incident in another state.
According to County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, county executives would need to develop recommendations regarding which county employees would qualify for compensation.
“We employ a lot of people with unique life-saving skills,” said Nelson. “Let’s put some process in place for in case this happens again. And let’s decide whether it doesn’t only have to be law enforcement because we might have a public health nurse who’s in a position to help.”
Over 40 Orange County Sheriff’s employees were in attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Four off-duty deputies were injured, one of which was shot in the thigh and abdomen during the attack while reportedly trying to usher his wife and another woman to safety.