August 26, 2016

Sen. Diamond introduces bill to allow police to raise funds - Michelle Libby

AUGUSTA — A new bill submitted by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, would remove a prohibition on fundraising by law enforcement agencies in some circumstances.

Diamond, who submitted the legislation last Thursday, said he was spurred to act after learning that several law enforcement officers in the state were struggling to pay for medical expenses related to family members’ illnesses. Current law does not allow police departments to solicit funds, so too often the officers in question have to turn to third-party fundraisers that retain much of the donations as a fee for service.

“Our police are hard-wired to protect and serve, and they deserve better than to struggle to take care of their loved ones in a time of need,” Diamond said. “There’s no reason our law shouldn’t be a little more flexible.”

Diamond said his intention is to allow law enforcement agencies to collect donations only under certain extenuating circumstances affecting an officer or their family, such as severe illness or other catastrophic event, or to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty. To ensure no member of the public is inadvertently intimidated into donating, the bill will also be designed to prohibit uniformed officers from directly soliciting donations themselves.

“Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and other law enforcement officials work hard every day to keep us safe,” Diamond said. “The least we can do is give them the ability to take care of their own when tragedy strikes.”

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