Washington Police Officer Faces Health Benefits Cut Despite Severe Injuries Sustained Guarding VP Harris

By Maria Angelino | Monday, 04 March 2024 01:00 AM
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A Washington-based police officer, Kevin Bereta, is on the brink of losing his health benefits while still recuperating from injuries he sustained during his duty as a security detail for Vice President Kamala Harris' motorcade.

Bereta, a motorcycle officer from the Bellevue Police Department, was injured during Harris' visit to Seattle in August, where she was fundraising for the Biden Victory Fund's 2024 re-election campaign and discussing climate change to commemorate the first anniversary of President Joe Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act. Bereta's benefits are scheduled to terminate this Friday.

Bereta's legal team explained the circumstances of the accident, stating, "Per protocol, he was not traveling the posted speed limit but was exceeding it. As he began traveling across the ramp, his motorcycle struck the side of the ramp, and he was ejected. His arms moved along the top of the old 27” tall railing, and he tried to grab onto it without success. Current code for railings is 42” tall." They further elaborated, "Because the railing was too short, he slid over the top and plunged 60 feet onto the highway below."

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Bereta's fall resulted in severe injuries to his back, leg, and shoulder. An oncoming vehicle narrowly avoided hitting him. Months after the accident, Bereta remains fully disabled and unable to return to work.

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Bereta's attorney, Mo Hamoudi, expressed his concerns on The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI. He said, "This is a crisis what's happening here…he's losing his benefits, and he's going to have to go on COBRA. And if anybody knows anything about COBRA, it's very expensive coverage. It's going to run him about a couple of thousand dollars a month."

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Hamoudi emphasized that the responsibility for extending the benefits lies with the city, not the police department. He said, "It's also not the police department's responsibility, it's the city's responsibility. The police department has been very supportive of Kevin. It's that they (the city) are not agreeing to extend those benefits. It's a contract issue. And as we know, any contract can be modified and changed. An exception can be made."

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Bereta, who has undergone several surgeries and is now wheelchair-bound, faces a long road to recovery. His wife Jenny, an ICU nurse, has had to reduce her work hours to part-time to care for him and their three children.

Despite the severity of Bereta's situation, Hamoudi revealed that they have not received any communication from Vice President Harris' office. He said, "We haven't heard anything from them. I mean, I am sure if somebody from the Vice President's office picked up the phone and called the city of Bellevue and said, ‘Hey, don't cut this guy's benefits’ …you think that would move the needle one direction or another."

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In response to the situation, Bellevue City officials issued a statement to KOMO News, explaining their policy on employee benefits and their commitment to supporting employees, particularly police officers, when standard policies do not meet their needs.

In the meantime, the Bellevue Police Foundation has been collecting donations to support Bereta and his family during his recovery. A GoFundMe campaign has also been established to help raise funds.

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