Should California Deputies at the Vegas Shooting Get Worker’s Comp?

Photo courtesy disneybrent, flickr

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The Orange County deputy sheriffs’ union president, in a recent interview with the Orange County Register, made a shockingly cynical statement about the men and women he represents. His words probably were meant as a rhetorical device to muscle county taxpayers into paying some controversial workers’ compensation claims, but I was nonetheless floored by what Tom Dominguez was quoted saying.

“The county has to be very cautious in these cases,” Dominguez told the newspaper. “If they deny the claims, then the message that they’re sending to their peace officers is not to take action when it is certainly warranted.”

Dominguez was referring to four unnamed county deputies who attended country singer Jason Aldean’s Oct. 1 concert in Las Vegas, where a gunman murdered 59 people and injured 527 others. The deputies were on their personal time and were in Clark County, Nevada, not Orange County, California, yet they argue that California residents should pay for their physical and psychological injuries.

Orange County this week rejected the request, but it’s likely to end up in court. Other counties and cities also are dealing with the same issue, according to the newspaper.

Like most government employees, Orange County deputy sheriffs receive extremely generous medical, sick leave, disability and vacation benefits. Their injuries should be covered given that they weren’t at the concert for work. But these deputies seek the extra benefit of workers’ compensation, which preserves their accumulated leave and allows longer periods of paid time off.

The newspaper didn’t have details of the particular claims, but noted that “several Orange County deputies at the Route 91 Harvest festival quickly assumed life-saving roles—protecting the perimeter of the area with a shotgun in one case and administering medical care in other instances.” When the shooting began, they used their skills to help out. They deserve to be applauded for their efforts in such a tense situation. Good for them.

The policy question, however, is whether deputies behaving as they are trained to behave opens a treasure-trove of work-related benefits—even if they were in a non-work situation in another county and neighboring state. Arguing that they are entitled to the benefits is a stretch, but let’s focus mainly on what the union president had to say. He seemed to suggest that if the county doesn’t agree to these extra benefits that other deputy sheriffs might not be willing to take action in a future, dangerous situation.

Am I the only one appalled by that suggestion?

Frankly, I don’t believe that’s so. It’s rather insulting to imply that California deputies and police officers would not protect and help their fellow citizens in an emergency situation if they weren’t able to later file a workers’ compensation claim. Sure, union bosses press the case for every conceivable benefit. Indeed, Dominguez said he went to Las Vegas and encouraged deputies to file claims. But his statement inadvertently maligns the motives of the people he is paid to represent. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register


  1. It appears the unions are ever watchful to further their gains within contractual bargaining power.

    The Military gives combat pay, but then, thats a horse of a different color. It’s said, enforcement officers are on duty 24/7. However, they were not under the aegis of their superior station. These officers were not under home duty or supervision. Certainly, they had a moral or legal obligation to uphold the law; However, they acted in a voluntary manner. I cannot believe these officers only acted because they were privey to additional benefits; that would be a disgusting thought.

    These officers acted under the contractual agreement of their employ………….And, since the union was not in Los Vegas, they should not benefit for actions not under their purview

    • I disagree with most of this B.S. If LEOs are on duty 24/7 there would never be a police officer drinking in a bar as a customer. The fact is there were more non-law enforcement related people administering aid and assistance in Las Vegas than LEOs, off-duty or otherwise. That comes under the heading of human survival and compassion. None of those non-LEO people are going to be rewarded with any benefits, per se, so why should the LEOs who were having fun on their own time prior to the incident? If NV provides any benefits for “Victims of Violent Crimes” perhaps these highly trained officers can rape NV’s coffers.

  2. J. Richards Garcia says

    Unfortunately, this reveals the heartlessness, unpatriotic and greed of California public employee unions: They will only work when paid, no matter how dire the situation is! Did you know that safety employees (police and fire) get permanent disability payments for injuries suffered even if injuries were not received in the line of duty?
    Also unfortunately, the knife cuts both ways. I absolutely do NOT advocate this, but will we read someday where an otherwise good Samaritan citizen refused to call for help of a downed Orange County policeman until the citizen was reimbursed workers compensation taxes on behalf of Orange County policemen off-duty in Vegas?

  3. retiredxlr8r says

    Briefly, “NO!”.
    If so, then any and all individuals who participated in any way at this tragic event would be eligible as these deputies.
    And herein lies the problem with public employee unions. Liberal benefits don’t seem to be enough, they always want more, and with their purchase of politicians/elected officers, they will probably dig deep into the taxpayers pocket to pay these benefits.
    Sorry, but, if you don’t like the pay and job don’t take it, apply elsewhere, you can be replaced!
    So NO California Taxpayers are NOT responsible for their problems earned elsewhere.

  4. Which reminds me of the richest man on earth lying on his deathbed. He summoned his son to come closer so he could speak to him. When the son got to the bedside, the old man beckoned him to lean over closer. The son bent over and asked “What is it Dad, what is it that you want”? With his last breath the old man replied,” More”,” I want More”.

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