We should honor those who work to protect us

In their honor: Al Taubenberger wants to take care of families who lost firefighters, police officers and other first responders in the line of duty. TIMES FILE PHOTO

By Al Taubenberger

My son, Matt, is a Pennsylvania state trooper. It’s incredibly dangerous work. One need only glance at the current news headlines regarding Eric Frein, who was just convicted of killing one trooper and severely wounding another in an unprovoked sniper attack on a Pennsylvania State Police barracks.

Although I am extraordinarily proud of my son, I confess to constantly worrying if he’ll make it home to his family every night. I cannot fathom the valor that he, his fellow state troopers, police officers, firefighters, prosecution detectives and paramedics possess to perform their critically important jobs in the face of constant danger. Philadelphia’s first responders are the best of us and are deserving of our respect and gratitude.

Sadly, far too many of Philadelphia’s first responders end up dying in the line of duty. We grieve as a city and pray for the surviving family members, but it’s not enough, in my estimation.

In an effort to better honor the ultimate sacrifices made by Philadelphia’s firefighters, police officers, paramedics and prosecution detectives, and to better provide for the families they leave behind, I recently introduced legislation to amend the existing “Hero Awards” section of the Philadelphia Code, which provides monetary benefits to the surviving spouse, dependent children or dependent parents of every firefighter, paramedic and police officer who perished in the line of duty while performing a heroic deed (in the judgment of the Hero Award Committee, a heroic deed‎ involves a special hazard or risk). Specifically, I proposed an amendment to Section 21–105 of the Philadelphia Code to raise the current “Hero Award’ sum of $25,000 to $35,000. The Hero Award was last raised in 2002 by then-Councilman Jim Kenney. The cost of living has skyrocketed over the last 15 years, so an increase in the award for the surviving family members of first responders who died while in the line of duty is more than warranted. This is the right thing to do for the families of these heroes

I have the utmost respect for our city’s firefighters, police officers, prosecution detectives and all those who lay their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. It’s important that we honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice by taking care of the families they unfortunately leave behind. I’m grateful to City Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th dist.) and Council members Brian O’Neill (R-10th dist.), Cherelle Parker (D-9th dist.) and Allan Domb (D-at large) for co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation and look forward to its imminent passage. ••

City Councilman Al Taubenberger (R-at large) resides in Fox Chase.