Sean Collier Act Issue Brief
The federal government provides death benefits to the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty through the Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) Act. The families of sworn law enforcement officers employed by private colleges and universities are not, however, covered by this essential federal benefit, even though officers at public institutions are eligible.
Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed while on duty on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in April 2013 by the Boston Marathon Bombers. Because MIT is a private, non-profit institution of higher education, his family is not eligible for PSOB assistance. Had Officer Collier been employed by a public college or university, his family would have been eligible for assistance. In fact, had an officer with the city police department been killed alongside Officer Collier, the city officer’s family would have received PSOB assistance.
Officer Collier was a sworn law enforcement officer authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to make arrests and obligated to take the same actions to protect citizens and preserve the peace as officers employed by city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Sadly, in the performance of his duties, Officer Collier made the ultimate sacrifice for his community and nation.
Prior to Officer Collier’s line-of-duty death, sworn law enforcement officers at Butler University (IN) and Brown University (RI) were also killed in the line of duty. Because both universities are private, their families were denied PSOB assistance.
Congress passed the PSOB Act to provide peace of mind to aspiring police officers by assuring them that their families would be cared for in the event they gave their life in service to others. As a matter of basic fairness, this peace of mind should be given to all sworn law enforcement officers regardless of which agency employs them.
The Sean Collier Act would only apply to state licensed or certified police or peace officers employed by private colleges or universities. Given the limited number of such deaths, it is reasonable to expect that the cost to the federal government would be nominal.
The Officer Sean Collier Campus Police Recognition Act (H.R. 3569) has bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. If enacted, this bill would provide PSOB assistance to the families of sworn law enforcement officers employed by private colleges and universities. We urge Congress to make passing this legislation a shared priority.
For additional information, please contact IACLEA Director of Government & External Relations, Altmann Pannell, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 618-8118.