The Department of Justice (DOJ) has declared that a police officer who tragically took his own life eight days after the January 6, 2021, events at the Capitol is considered to have died in the line of duty. This ruling enables his widow to receive federal benefits typically reserved for the families of officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
This decision has altered the previous stance, where families of officers who died by suicide were ineligible for such benefits. This change has raised concerns about the potential politicization of the DOJ, which might lead to criticism against the Biden administration and Democrats.
This policy adjustment aligns with President Joe Biden’s recent amendments to the Public Safety Officer Support Act. These modifications now categorize certain suicides as line-of-duty deaths.
As reported by The Western Journal, this revised legislation, which was passed around a year ago, broadened disability and education benefits. Additionally, it mandates that the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB) should “presume” suicides to be a consequence of job-related duties, as long as evidence exists of physical injuries that could lead to emotional trauma.
The widow of Metropolitan Police Officer Erin Smith has been one of the first beneficiaries of this change. Smith was involved in altercations with rioters on January 6, as documented by NBC News. He engaged in a physical struggle with protesters and was hit in the face by a metal pole thrown by someone.
Erin Smith, the widow of a D.C. police officer who took his own life days after reporting to the Capitol on January 6, says “he was never the same” after the insurrection.
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 30, 2022