Richardson: New Year's Eve a reminder brave citizens deserve more - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: New Year's Eve a reminder brave citizens deserve more

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 4:47 pm | Updated: 6:09 pm, Wed Jan 8, 2014.

To me, a hero is someone who does something they don’t have to knowing their selfless actions could cost them greatly and that includes loss of life and limb.

When I heard the news of a citizen coming to the aid of a Phoenix Police officer battling for his life with a violent criminal on New Year's Eve, it brought back memories from August 2005, when a taxi cab driver went to the aid of a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy who was in fight for his life in south Tucson.

Fifty-six-year-old Dawud Isa Abusida stopped his cab and voluntarily went to the aid of Deputy Timothy Graham. The Palestinian immigrant who’d just started his own cab company put everything on the line to aid the deputy. His decision cost him his life. Before the fight was over the deputy, suspect and Dawud were dead. Abusida was a hero.

Following Abussida’s death, I wrote legislation and worked with then-Sen. John Huppenthal and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to get the Law Enforcement Good Samaritan Law signed into law making a person, or their survivors, who is killed or seriously injured while coming to the aid of a police officer or fire fighter eligible for compensation from the crime victim’s fund. If I recall correctly, the maximum benefit is $50,000 dollars or about a day in an intensive care unit.

Whatever the amount is not nearly enough to compensate someone for their injuries or the family that loses their breadwinner. Civilians who jump in the line of fire are not eligible for the more substantial levels of government-sponsored compensation.

That brings me to 63-year-old Phillip Grigg, who aided the Phoenix police officer Scott Sefranka who was struggling with an armed robber and is now fighting to stay alive after being shot.

Once again, a lone man comes to the aid of a police officer fighting for their life. It’s been reported the man serves in the sheriff’s search and rescue posse. Unfortunately that won’t qualify him for much of anything. He wasn’t working as a posse member at the time of his actions.

As 2014 starts, we’re again faced with a tragedy involving a citizen coming to the aid of a police officer in need. There needs to be a discussion at the state Legislature to examine and expand the benefits eligible for citizens who come to the aid of police officers and fire fighters in need and who are seriously injured or killed for their heroic efforts.

It’s the least we can do for those who put everything on the line to help our police officers or fire fighters.

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