Current, Former Mass. Police Officers Testify in Support of Disability Pensions Bill

Current and former law enforcement officers testified at the Massachusetts State House Tuesday in support of a bill that would grant severely injured officers their regular salary even after they were forced to leave the police force.

The Joint Committee on Public Service listened to testimony from a number of people, including two officers who were shot in the line of duty: former Somerville Police Det. Mario Oliveria and former Woburn Police Officer Bob DeNapoli.

Oliveria and DeNapoli are working with State Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, whose bill would allow future officers injured by violence and forced to retire, to continue to receive 100% of their regular pay until they reach the age of mandatory retirement.

Those officers would be eligible for 80% of their pension including cost of living increases.

DeNapoli was shot six times investigating a jewelry store robbery in 2011. He is now blind in one eye and unable to work as a police officer.

Oliveria was investigating a case in 2010 when he was also shot six times. He tried to get back to work, but had a heart attack that left him unable to do so.

Both men emotionally told legislators that right now, families get more benefits if an officer dies.

"There were days I sat on my bed thinking I should have died. My family would be better off," Oliveria said.

"I couldn't grasp the idea [of not being a police officer]... it was more than a job or career for me. It was a way of life," DeNapoli said.

If the bill passes, it would be the first of its kind in the country, according to Oliveria.

Read the full bill here.

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