Senator Judith Zaffirini introduces bill providing educational options for disabled police officers

David Maly

Disabled law enforcement officers throughout the state may soon have more educational options available to them if a bill filed for the 2013 state legislative session passes.

Earlier this month, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, filed a bill that would amend the state’s educational code to mandate a currently optional tuition and fee exemption for disabled law enforcement officers to take courses at public institutions of higher education.

Eligible officers must have resided in the state 12 months prior to the beginning of the semester or session, be permanently disabled from an injury suffered during work as a law enforcement officer in Texas or one of its political subdivisions and be unable to continue employment as a law enforcement officer because of the disability.

UT spokesperson Gary Susswein said UT currently offers the exemption, but no one has taken advantage of it in the last five years.

Wayne Vincent is the president of the Austin Police Association, which advocates for the rights of Austin police officers and operates a political action committee. He said the bill provides increased options for disabled law enforcement officers who often have a difficult time supporting themselves and their families after an injury at work.

“We should do anything we can do to help our disabled officers find gainful employment,” Vincent said. “I think we owe it to them.”

Vincent said benefits for public employees are often a big topic within the state Legislature, and that it is hard to say whether or not the bill will pass.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: Bill provides education options for disabled cops