CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Earlier this week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 11, otherwise known as the Jason Gresko Act, which helps support families of volunteer and part-time police officers who are killed or hurt in the line of duty.
The legislation comes after the death of part-time Willoughby Police officer Jason Gresko. Officer Gresko was killed in 2012 when a drunk driver turned in front of him, forcing him to swerve, striking a tree. The driver is serving a 4.5 year sentence. After his death, Gresko's family was unable to receive the same benefits as a volunteer firefighter's family in similar circumstances because no fund existed for part-time and volunteer officers.
Jason's brother Nick said, "This tragedy already hit us, we want to make sure that this is in place, God forbid if this ever happens again to another family. We want something in place, so that my niece Olivia, or little kids like her, or my sister-in-law Sandra; that there is benefits in place for those wives and those children. Because when tragedy strikes, you just don't know how it is when it hits you."
The bill, sponsored by Senator LaRose and Senator Eklund, creates the Volunteer Police Officer's Dependent Fund. It will be similar to the one for firefighters, and provide fallen and wounded officer's families which much needed help during a very difficult time.
"Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day when they leave their homes and report for duty," said LaRose. "With the passage of this bill, the families of any law enforcement officer, whether they are full-time, part-time or volunteer, will be offered assistance should a tragedy occur."
The bill awaits Gov. John Kasich's signature. Regardless, it will become law in ten days after the passage.
"The bottom line is, these men and women do the same duties as full time officers, not taking away from full time officers, but they put the badge and the vest on the same way, and serve and protect and go out there and protect the community. And that was the one thing my brother loved, was to go out there everyday and help others," said Nick Gresko.