SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago, championed the needs of first responders and law enforcement throughout this year’s legislative session. As Chair of the House Police and First Responders Committee, Hurley sponsored legislation to increase protections for those who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe. Hurley also supported measures that support children of those tragically killed or disabled in the line of duty and which raise public awareness on the tremendous mental strain first responders face on a regular basis.
“First responders and law enforcement hold selfless jobs that require dedication and sacrifice, it is high time we do more to give back to our officers and their families,” said Hurley. “It takes great mental and emotional fortitude to risk one’s life in the line of duty.”
In an effort to protect first responders from injury while in the line of duty in her role as Vice-Chair of the House Fire and Emergency Services Committee, Hurley Chief Co-sponsored House Bill 4390 which provides that a person commits an offense when he or she knowingly creates and conceals a dangerous condition in a commercial property, and it is found to be the primary cause of the death or serious bodily injury of a first responder in the course of his or her official duties. House Bill 4390 passed the House unanimously and is currently pending in the Senate.
Hurley also signed on as Chief Co-Sponsor to House Resolution 809 which aims to increase workplace safety for first responders and law enforcement officers when coming into contact with Fentanyl and its analogues. Because Fentanyl potency and affinity for absorption into the human body poses real danger to those that come in contact with it, the Resolution urges that first responders and law enforcement officers, as well as public health officials, become educated on proper precautions to avoid exposure and potential overdose.
“Enacting measures to help protect those who serve in our communities each and every day is my priority, Hurley said. “Law enforcement, firefighters and emergency workers put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”
Additionally, Hurley is Chief Sponsor of House Bill 4467, which provides educational assistance to children of those killed, or who become 90 to 100 percent disabled in the line of duty. Under Hurley’s bill, natural and adoptive children are given education grants for up to the maximum rate for tuition and fees at any Illinois public college or university. The bill has passed both the House and Senate. Hurley spearheaded this legislation in response to an Illinois grant which was denied to an officer of FOP Lodge #7. Hurley’s bill clarified statutory language so future children of first responders will not have to fight the court system.
“While the loss of an officer in the line of duty impacts the entire community, the pain is undoubtedly felt most strongly by the fallen officer’s family members, said Hurley. “It’s important that our state law is updated to ease the financial burden on the families of our community’s fallen heroes.”
House Bill 4345, which makes the third Friday in May each year “First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day” in Illinois was also backed by Hurley. The day is meant to raise public awareness of the mental health issues common among first responders, such as depression and PTSD, as well as honor firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who have tragically taken their lives. In 2016, 108 police officers committed suicide, and 113 firefighters and paramedics committed suicide in the year prior. House Bill 4345 has passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
“While many of our departments do Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and other practices to help combat the mental stress that comes with the job, there is always more that can be done,” Hurley said. “We need to show more support for our first responders and law enforcement officers.”