New bill aims to provide benefits for officers, firefighters forced to medically retire

DENVER - Colorado has more than 750 police and firefighters who were hurt on the job and forced to medically retire. Jana and Bill Holder, both former Brighton police officers, want to protect those protectors.

The Holders are behind a new bill at the state legislature. House Bill 19-1080 would provide certain benefits to police and firefighters who are injured on the job and forced to medically retire. Jana said, “This is a small price to pay for what they did for us. It`s years of surgeries, years of financial stress, years of depression. They need our support.”

Bill Holder was involved in three high speed crashes - all on duty - none was his fault. He said, “I started losing dexterity in my hand and stumbling. We didn`t know what was wrong.” He was forced to leave the job he loved in 2001.

He said, “That loss of that career is the loss of an identity. It`s not just what you do every day, it`s who you are.”

Representative Rod Bockenfeld from Watkins agreed to sponsor the bill. He said, “I was a little surprised to find out that when we have first responders with occupational disabilities that we`re not providing the same benefits that we do to someone who is a military veteran who has a disability.”

They are asking for: free state park passes and hunting and fishing licenses and a way to work off their property taxes by doing community service. Jana said, “Police officers, first responders, they are the ones that love to help. Their whole purpose in life is to help and to serve. If we can give that purpose to them and reward them for their service by reducing their property taxes they can go to school, read books to children, do things, they can do things in their lives again.”

Chris Darrow, who medically retired from Colorado Springs Police Department testified, “So the recognition more than the actual benefit for some of us is more important to see.”

Supporters say this bill is a small price to pay for those who give it all every day. Jana holder said, “We’re just going for simple recognition. But when I started talking to officers, it’s a huge thing. A huge benefit. It’s huge to them.”

The committee offered some suggestions to improve the bill, and the Rep. Bockefeld plans to make some minor adjustments and re-introduce it soon.

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